I've had this sitting in my inbox a while, but I thought that with the Senate bill out it was time to have a bit of weekend fun with it. The topic is the fear that a public option/government-run health plan/Hitler-ization of America (delete where applicable) will of necessity put all those worthy private health plans out of business. And worse because it will impose government's lower pay rates on providers, it'll also put them out of business, or at least into a position equivalent to that of Ukrainian peasants working on a collectivized farm.
Everywhere you go in the hospital world you hear complaints that Medicare pays less than private payers, and that the private insurance business is the only thing keeping providers alive.
Everywhere but Orark mountains of southwest Missouri and Northeast Arkansas.
Paul Taylor is the CEO of a tiny hospital system there called Ozarks Community Hospital. It's basically a safety net hospital and it only gets about 5% of its business from the leading commercial insurer, Blues of Missouri–part of Wellpoint. And does Wellpoint pay more for its patients than Medicare?
In fact this chart shows that it pays less than half in many cases. I thoroughly recommend you read Pauls blog piece on the topic from which I lifted that chart. It's an entertaining, detailed and sensible read.
But what he's saying is that a public option will be better for hospitals serving lower-income populations than a simple expansion of private insurance.
Categories: Matthew Holt