Patients pay more in hospital-owned physician practices, but no increase in care quality, study shows

Patients costs increase in hospital-owned physician practices compared to physician-owned groups, but the quality of care is not necessarily better, according to a Rice University study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Researchers examined Blue Cross Blue Shield Texas insurance claims data from 2014 through 2016 for patients ages 19 to 64 enrolled in a preferred provider organization in the Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin metropolitan areas.

According to the study, patient spending in hospital-owned physician practices was 5.8 percentage points higher compared to patient spending in physician-owned groups.

Researchers said greater use of services appears to be the reason for the spending difference instead of higher prices. They said "no consistent difference" existed in quality of care for hospital-owned physician practices compared to physician-owned groups.

"We find that financial integration between physicians and hospitals raises patient spending, but not care quality," they concluded. "Given that higher spending raises the price of health insurance, policy makers should carefully consider policies that limit consolidation of hospitals and physicians."

 

More articles on healthcare finance: 

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Connecticut launches medical cost estimator tool

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