Providing Insights that Contribute to Better Health Policy
Insurance Coverage & Costs Access to Care Quality & Care Delivery Health Care Markets Issue Briefs Data Bulletins Research Briefs Policy Analyses Community Reports Journal Articles Other Publications Surveys Site Visits Design and Methods Data Files
Seattle's Economic and Budget Woes Threaten Health Coverage Expansions
Hospitals and DoctorsCompete for Profitable Specialty Services as Costs Rise Rapidly
FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
ASHINGTON, D.C.— Seattles struggling economy and rapidly rising health care costs, coupled with a state budget deficit, threaten to unravel recent gains in health insurance coverage, according to a new Community Report released today by HSC.
The current Seattle health care market stands in stark contrast to two years ago when Washingtons generous public insurance programs were expanding and employers offered rich health benefits to attract and retain workers in a tight labor market.
"The reversal of fortune in Seattle is striking, and the combined effect of rising unemployment, declining real wages, rising health costs and budget shortfalls is straining the health care safety net," said Cara S. Lesser, M.P.P. director of site visits for HSC, a nonpartisan policy research organization funded exclusively by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Rising costs have spurred employers and health plans to increase consumer cost sharing and consider new benefit designs, including tiered-provider networks and consumer-driven products. At the same time, physician groups and hospital systems have accelerated expansion into profitable specialty and ancillary services, raising questions about how health care costs can be contained. Other key findings of the report, Economic Downturn and State Budget Woes Overshadow Seattle Health Care Market, which is available by clicking here, include:
Seattle is one of 12 communities across the country tracked intensively by HSC researchers through site visits and surveys. The new report is based on an October 2002 site visit and interviews with more than 85 Seattle health care leaders, representing health plans, employers, hospitals, physicians and policy makers.
The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research organization committed to providing objective and timely insights on the nations changing health system to help inform policy makers and contribute to better health care policy. HSC, based in Washington, D.C., is funded exclusively by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.