• Bonus quote of the day: Vertical integration in western Pennsylvania

    Community Blue is sold by a company called Highmark. Like U.P.M.C., it is both a hospital system and an insurance provider, part of a growing trend toward vertical consolidation in the two industries. These and other companies insist that such consolidation streamlines the caregiving system and thus benefits the patient. But in the short term, they are waging a vicious war over patients — and as the experience in Pittsburgh shows, it’s often the patients who are losing.

    Theresa Brown, NY Times

    @afrakt (via phone)

    • I’d hope vertical integration would encourage insurers to push for one price from all providers. Otherwise, they’ll end up selling insurance policies that may be very good when you stay home, but awful out of network.

    • I believe this relates to “any willing provider” (AWP) laws adopted in many states. The referenced article in the NYT refers to an “any willing insurer” law introduced In Pennsylvania. I may be confused (I frequently am), but I believe the author meant “any willing provider”. Most studies have concluded that AWP laws increase costs. Not surprisingly, ACA has an anti-AWP provision. With increasing levels of consolidation and, more importantly, integration, AWP laws will have diminished significance; indeed, with absolute integration (i.e., no independent physicians), there won’t be any providers who are willing – they will do what their employers (the integrated health care systems) tell them to do.