Health care costs may be bloated in America, but California's hospitals are relatively efficient.
That was the appraisal by Anne McLeod, senior vice president of the California Hospitals Association, who spoke Thursday at the Leadership Forum.
McLeod, who has been making sense of the health care reform package on behalf of California's hospitals, said the changes are mixed. "Some good — and many are bad," she said.
Under the plan, insurance companies can no longer refuse those with pre-existing conditions.
"That sounds wonderful, and it is a worthy goal. But there are no limits on premiums. What good is it if someone gets a policy, but it costs $2,000 per month?"
A troubling trend, she said: Hospitals are being woefully reimbursed for Medicare and Medicaid patients. The trend will only deepen, with insurance companies left to make up the difference.
That's bad news for employers, as they face rising insurance bills. As health care reform clicks in, some employers may choose to stop paying for health insurance and instead pay penalties based on an involved formula that includes the number and income of workers.
McLeod said that hospitals are getting a smaller piece of the nation's overall health care spending, while spending on pharmaceuticals has steadily risen.
Studies have found that California hospitals operate with relative efficiency, despite higher labor costs and more stringent requirements for nurse-to-patient ratios than other states.
"We generally do a good job of getting people where they need to be and not over-utilizing the system," she said.
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