Posted: March 20th, 2014 | By: Rose Hoban
Act 1 – Is N.C. health care competitive enough?
On Tuesday, lawmakers on a committee tasked with finding market-based solutions to health care problems started the day hearing suggestions on making the health care system more responsive to market forces.
But as they talked about competition, experts called to educate legislators about the health care system invariably talked about how the Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as Obamacare) is changing the marketplace.
As the pace of hospital mergers and acquisitions has accelerated, only 37 hospitals out of 126 in North Carolina remain unaffiliated with larger hospital systems. Most of those are located in rural counties, with a few in suburban areas.
Mark Werner from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina told lawmakers that the competition that often drives down costs in other fields doesn’t always work in the health care marketplace. He blamed, in part, new drugs and procedures that are developed at high cost. Those charges get passed along to health care providers, who pass them along to patients. Those new technologies are also expensive for smaller hospitals to acquire and keep running, especially hospitals in poorer, rural parts of the state.