BNBSE: Driving The Week

A scathing new op-ed in the Salt Lake City Tribune reveals the dangerous risk posed by HCA’s latest acquisition attempt, which targets 5 hospitals in Utah’s largest medical market.

Written by Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Utah and Senior Fellow at the Jain Family Institute, Marshall Steinbaum, the op-ed affirms that the merger “should be a major cause of concern for everyone in our state — patients, insurers, employers and frontline health care workers.”

Published on Christmas Eve, the new piece calls particular attention to the fact that “HCA’s hospitals in Utah charge between four and almost seven times the cost of providing care, consistently above and in some instances nearly double the statewide averages of prices for the same services.” Steinbaum additionally notes that these high charges do not lead to an increase in care quality, but rather “spell increased costs for the public with no benefits in return, except for HCA’s shareholders and corporate executives in Nashville.”

A recent study of a similar for-profit hospital acquisition affirms this view, finding that promises of improved care and economics did not materialize for the regions affected. The op-ed concludes that if permitted, the acquisition “would trigger a race to the bottom by putting pressure on its Utah rivals to cut costs instead of prices to compete, thereby worsening the quality of care we receive. Read the full op-ed outlining the potential dangers of HCA’s acquisition here: Hospital sales would put Utah’s health care in jeopardy.