Op-Ed: Hospital Employment Means Higher Spending, Less Patient-Physician Communication

In an editorial on Kentucky.com, Kevin T. Kavanagh, MD, chairman of Health Watch USA, and Helen Bukulmez, a policy analyst with the organization, wrote that healthcare spending will suffer if physicians continue the move toward hospital ownership.

According to the editorial, it is estimated that by 2013, more than two-thirds of physicians will be employed by or have a contract with a hospital. Hospitals are paid more than outpatient surgery centers and independent physicians for delivering the same outpatient services, meaning that as hospital employment increases, so will healthcare spending.

Low-paying practice incomes have forced physicians into hospital employment, resulting in the loss of independent medical staff at hospitals, according to the report. Payments for office visits for freestanding practices could be cut by 30 percent, and larger healthcare systems and mergers are unlikely to produce the cost savings that smaller practices and surgery centers can, according to the report.

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