Has Competition Lowered Hospital Prices?

Inquiry - Spring 2005
Vol. 42, No. 1
Spring 2005
Zwanziger, J and C Mooney.
pp. 73-85

Inquiry - Spring 2005

On Jan. 1, 1997, New York ended its regulation of hospital prices with the intent of using competitive markets to control prices and increase efficiency.  This paper uses data that came from annual reports filed by all health maintenance organizations (HMOs) operating in New York and include payments to and usage in the major hospitals in an HMO's network.  We estimate the relationship between implied prices and hospital, plan, and market characteristics.  The models show that after 1997, hospitals in more competitive markets paid less.  Partially offsetting these price reductions were price increases associated with hospital mergers that reduced the competitiveness of the local market.  Hospital deregulation was successful, at least in the short run, in using price competition to reduce hospital payments; it is unclear whether this success will be undermined by the structural changes taking place in the hospital industry. 

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