The downside of medical homes

Integrated delivery networks (IDNs) and medical homes are all the rage among health wonks.  The ability for patients to receive holistic are from multispecialty practice teams seems like it would be beneficial.  While quality of care may (or may not) improve with more integrated care, provider consolidation may have one downside: higher prices.  An NBER…

Why do physician practices join value-based payment initiatives?

Are physicians ready for value-based payment? That is the question a recent paper by Markovitz et al. (2017) attempts to answer. This question is not hypothetical as the Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (MACRA) requires physicians to choose between the current fee-for-service structure under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or…

Health care market concentration

One question is whether more physician concentration is a good thing.  On the one hand, larger practices could lead to more efficient care. On the other hand, larger practices could give providers more market power and could drive up prices. A separate question is whether federal authorities could do anything about increased physician market concentration.…

Will MACRA kill small physician practices?

Depending on the source, 34% to 59% percent of physicians are employed in practices of less than 10 physicians.  On the other hand, 39% of physicians are employed by hospitals.  How will these proportions change over time? An interesting paper by Casalino (2017) examines the impact of the  Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) on…

The kindly physician or the profit maximizer?

In the U.S. physician fees are largely set through regulation or negotiation with insurers. For physicians accepting Medicare or Medicaid patients, fees are set by government entities (i.e., the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for Medicare reimbursement for the former and state Medicaid agencies for the latter). Rates for physicians accepting patients with private…

Supply side health reform

Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution notes that designing a health care system that focuses on benefits to consumers and is important, but one should not ignore how any health care system design affects the supply of health care, in particular incentives to create innovative goods and services. By greater spending on medical research, I mean not…