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The State of Competition in Local Health Care Markets. Statement of Paul B. Ginsburg, FTC/DOJ Hearings on Health Care and Competition Law and Policy February 26, 2003. Key Points. Rise and fall of managed care throughout the 1990s shapes competition today

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the state of competition in local health care markets

The State of Competition in Local Health Care Markets

Statement of Paul B. Ginsburg, FTC/DOJ Hearings on Health Care and Competition Law and Policy

February 26, 2003

key points
Key Points
  • Rise and fall of managed care throughout the 1990s shapes competition today
  • Forces outside purview of anti-trust enforcement have influenced competition
    • Many have limited competition
  • Many markets have limited prospects for effective competition
center for studying health system change hsc
Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC)
  • Research on changes in the organization and delivery of care -- and their impact on people
    • Objective information for policy makers
    • Funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Emphasis on health care markets
cts site visits
CTS Site Visits
  • Insight into changing market trends
  • Visit 12 randomly selected sites every two years
  • Most recent visits in 2000-2001
  • Conduct 50-90 interviews in each site, including a broad cross-section of local health system leaders
  • “Triangulate” results
the cts sites
The CTS Sites

Seattle, WA

Cleveland, OH

Lansing, MI

Syracuse, NY

Boston, MA

Northern NJ

Indianapolis, IN

Little Rock, AR

Phoenix, AZ

Orange County, CA

Greenville, SC

Site visits and surveysSurvey only

Miami, FL

plan of talk
Plan of Talk
  • Background: Experience of 1990s
  • Hospitals
  • Physicians
  • Insurers
  • Provider/Insurer relations
  • Purchasers
  • Overall potential for competition
background ascendancy of managed care
Background: Ascendancy of Managed Care
  • Narrow networks, provider risk, and authorizations become core components of financing
  • National and regional managed care plans formed and expand vigorously
  • Hospitals form systems and consolidate
  • Managed care and Medicare cuts pressure hospitals to contain costs
  • Physicians chafe at loss of autonomy and income
background retreat of managed care
Background: Retreat of Managed Care
  • Less restrictive model of managed care emerges in response to backlash and economic boom
    • Broader provider choice
    • Fewer requirements for authorizations
    • Reduced use of risk contracting
background provider response to retreat of managed care
Background: Provider Response to Retreat of Managed Care
  • Provider structures developed for managed care unravel
    • Less basis for vertical integration
    • Little follow through on clinical integration
  • Providers regain leverage with health plans
slowing of trend of hospital consolidation
Slowing of Trend of Hospital Consolidation
  • Fewer players left—reaching the limits
  • Managed care less threatening
  • Little excess capacity in face of increasing demand
hospitals focus competition on perceived quality
Hospitals Focus Competition on Perceived Quality
  • Vigorous competition in some consolidated markets
    • Mostly on non-price dimensions
  • Return of the “medical arms race“ for profitable services
  • Sharp increase in promotional activity
hospitals facing entry threat specialty facilities 1
Hospitals Facing Entry Threat: Specialty Facilities (1)
  • Focus on profitable services
    • Inadvertent market signals
    • Specialization increases impact of pricing distortions
  • Tool for hospitals to invade others’ geographic turf
  • Additional threat from physician-owned facilities
hospitals facing entry threat specialty facilities 2
Hospitals Facing Entry Threat: Specialty Facilities (2)
  • Potential for erosion of traditional cross subsidies
  • Plan resistance to contracting
physician consolidation into single specialty groups
Physician Consolidation into Single-Specialty Groups
  • Key motivations
    • Achieve scale to purchase profitable equipment
    • Increase leverage with health plans
  • Lack of emphasis on multi-specialty groups
  • Decline in physician-hospital organizations
insurer consolidation mostly across markets
Insurer Consolidation Mostly Across Markets
  • Fewer opportunities for consolidation within markets
    • Some opportunities for entry through purchase of hospital-owned plans
    • Many examples of failed entry
  • Most plan mergers oriented to scale economies
    • Information technology
    • Care management technology
    • Marketing economies
    • But scale economies difficult to achieve
nature of health plan competition
Nature of Health Plan Competition
  • Product innovation
    • Customization for diverse employers
      • Competing with other vendors
    • Emphasis on case management
    • Novel benefit structures
  • Customer service
  • Pricing “discipline”
blue cross blue shield solidified dominance in some markets
Blue Cross-Blue Shield: Solidified Dominance in Some Markets
  • Historically large market shares
  • Benefit from shift in consumer preferences

Broad networks

    • PPOs rather than HMOs
blue consolidation intertwined with conversion
Blue Consolidation Intertwined with Conversion
  • States less resistant
    • Potential revenue source
  • Greater attention to price
  • Split within Blue world on virtue of conversion
hospitals gaining leverage over plans
Hospitals Gaining Leverage Over Plans
  • “Must have” status of leading hospitals
  • Constrained hospital capacity
  • Hospitals have resisted tiered networks
  • Evidence of moderately higher price trends
physician leverage has grown less
Physician Leverage Has Grown Less
  • Brand-name status carries less clout for physicians
    • Key exception is some single-specialty groups
    • Most physicians are price takers
    • Price trend has remained low
  • Trend towards leaving networks and boutique medicine
purchasers influence nature of plan and provider competition
Purchasers Influence Nature of Plan and Provider Competition
  • Demands for broad networks
  • Taking sides in showdowns
  • Shape of benefit package
  • Willingness to pay for quality
changing purchaser behavior
Changing Purchaser Behavior
  • Decline in collective activity
    • National mergers
    • Smaller HR departments
    • Lack of success in past
  • Behavior follows economic cycles
    • Profitability
    • Tightness of labor markets
competition on clinical quality limited by lack of information
Competition on Clinical Quality Limited by Lack of Information
  • Mixed experience with hospital report cards
  • “Private regulation” approach of Leapfrog Group
  • Government may need to act as catalyst
many markets have limited potential for price competition
Many Markets Have Limited Potential for Price Competition
  • Small numbers of hospital systems and health plans
    • Entry difficult
  • Barriers to consumer price incentives
    • Limits to cost sharing
    • Absence of useful information on clinical quality
    • Leaders’ desire to protect cross subsidies to care for the uninsured
how to deal with absence of competition
How to Deal with Absence of Competition
  • Informal “public utility” pressures
    • Can prevent egregious behavior
    • But unlikely to meet other goals for competition
  • Medicare payment provides incentives to control costs
  • Alternative options
    • 1970s-style regulation
    • Increase patient financial responsibility