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ASC, hospital & health plan CEOs wary of high-deductible health plans

CEOs of hospitals and ASCs in New Hampshire expressed concerns about high-deductible health plans during a symposium held by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

The following executives participated in the symposium:

  • Nick Vailas, CEO of Bedford Ambulatory Surgery Center and Patriot Health Partners
  • Greg Baxter, president of Elliot Hospital in Manchester
  • Joanne Conroy, MD, CEO and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon
  • Adam Scott, senior vice president of Tufts Health Freedom Plan
  • Alex Walker, executive vice president and COO of Catholic Medical Center in Manchester

Sixty-nine percent of New Hampshire residents have high-deductible health plans, the highest in the country. Proponents say the significant out-of-pocket costs that come with high-deductible plans encourage patients to shop around for care.

Mr. Scott said Tufts Health Plan and other insurers are giving consumers more control over their care, "putting tools in the hands of people."

However, several executives on the symposium panel criticized the plans. Dr. Conroy, whose organization offers a high-deductible plan to its 13,000 employees, was one of those critics.

"We're not actually rewarding people. It feels like a punishment," she said.

Mr. Vailas of BASC pointed out that healthcare prices are influenced by consumer behavior when services aren't covered by insurance.

"One of the principal problems in healthcare is the lack of market forces. You need an experienced and informed consumer, which is the patient," said Mr. Vailas.

The executives also discussed value-based care. New Hampshire has a long way to come when it comes to warranty care and bundled payments, according to Mr. Baxter.

While Dartmouth-Hitchcock has value-based care initiatives in place for diabetic employees, Mr. Walker said that certain patient segments — the mentally ill and drug and alcohol users — don't have any such benefit plans.

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