Maine needs more hospital competition, not consolidation
To the Editor;
The consolidation of hospitals in Maine has completely reshaped health care delivery and access, as I believe hospitals have exploited their size to bend the market to serve their own purposes. Not only has this limited Mainers’ options, it’s caused their health care costs to go through the roof. In recent years, Maine has been ranked as having some of the highest health care costs in the country. In fact, the year prior, the average deductible for a single person in our state was nearly $2,500 — the most of any state in the U.S.
Owing to the lack of market competition, hospitals in Maine have also seemed to get more aggressive in their contract negotiations with health plans, which hurts patients when hospitals force these health plans into all-or-nothing agreements with every provider or facility in their system, even when more affordable — or, better quality — options are available. These types of contracts allow hospitals to inflate their bottom lines, while limiting competition and driving up costs even further for consumers, employers, and the state.
This is why consolidation is so harmful — as hospitals get bigger, they’re able to negotiate these types of anti-competitive contracts, all while extracting higher payments and offering lower value care.
Hospital consolidation has resulted in a health care market dominated by a handful of players in our state. We need Maine legislators to increase hospital competition by eliminating anti-competitive, all-or-nothing contracts and empowering the market to keep these health systems in check.