Another Study Undercuts Physician-Owned Hospital Suspicions

Physician-owned hospitals cherry-pick well-insured patients, disfavor Medicaid and minority patients, and charge more that their nonprofit counterparts, right?  Wrong, says a new study published on September 2 by respected BMJ (formerly, British Medical Journal).

The study, “Access, Quality, and Costs at Physician Owned Hospitals in the U.S.: Observational Study” by Blumenthal et al., analyzed 2010 data from 219 physician-owned hospitals (POHs) and 1967 non-POHs.  The conclusion, as stated in the study’s abstract, is “Although POHs may treat slightly healthier patients, they do not seem to systematically select more profitable or less disadvantaged patients or to provide lower value care.”

Why does conventional wisdom hold otherwise?  The authors suggest it may be because conventional wisdom is based primarily on studies of specialty POHs, and the results may reflect the specialty status rather than the ownership of the hospitals.

Why does this matter?  Because attitudes toward POHs are reflected in laws and policies that significantly restrict and disfavor POHs relative to non-POHs.

The BMJ article is at BMJ 2015;351:h4466.

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