KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

When The Economy Is Tough, Hospitals Woo Well-Insured Patients

A study published in Health Affairs found that during the recession, hospitals have sought to establish themselves in affluent markets.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: During Tough Times, Hospitals Expand Into Affluent Areas
Amid the recession, hospitals have been aggressively establishing footholds in affluent areas outside their traditional market boundaries as they fight for the patients with the best insurance, according to a new study (Rau, 4/9). 

Modern Healthcare: Hospitals Expand To Reach Well-Insured Patients: Report
Dominant regional hospital systems are using geographic expansion to attract well-insured patients from outside their traditional market areas, according to a report by the Center for Studying Health System Change published in Health Affairs. Researchers studied 12 U.S. health care markets and found that hospitals are expanding their geographic base with one or more of these strategies for building referral bases and gaining additional inpatient admissions: Buying or building full-service hospitals or freestanding emergency departments, buying or establishing physician practices, or developing a regional presence with emergency transport service, according to the report (Robeznieks, 4/9).

In other news -

The New York Times: For The Elderly, Emergency Rooms Of Their Own
Hospitals also have strong financial incentives to focus on the elderly. People over 65 account for 15 percent to 20 percent of emergency room visits, hospital officials say, and that number is expected to grow as the population ages. Under the Affordable Care Act … hospitals' Medicare payments will be tied to scores on patient satisfaction surveys and how frequently patients have to be readmitted to the hospital (Hartocollis, 4/9).

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