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Ginsburg Health Affairs’ Article Outlines Health Care Competition in Last Decade

Future Role of Competition in U.S. Health Care System Remains Open Question

Media Advisory
Nov. 10, 2005

Alwyn Cassil (202) 264-3484 or

Editor’s Note: To obtain an electronic copy of the Health Affairs articles, reporters may e-mail Alwyn Cassil at

WASHINGTON, DC—Understanding the roller-coaster experience of market forces in the U.S. health care system in the past decade provides an important context for the role competition is likely to play in shaping health care in the coming years, according to an article by Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) President Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., in the November/December edition of the journal Health Affairs.

In the article, Ginsburg outlines the evolution of health care competition in the past decade against the backdrop of the rise and fall of managed care. The article then explores the current interest in engaging consumers more actively in the health care system and how the "greatest potential for a larger role for consumers lies in mechanisms that apply competitive pressure on providers to improve the quality of care that they provide and reduce their costs."

Ginsburg points out that the highly consolidated nature of most local health care markets makes it challenging for competition to foster higher quality and reduced costs. He concludes that, "The public is likely to be less accepting of changes in how they get medical care than in how they purchase airline services. They will have to be shown that these changes are benefiting them with lower costs or higher quality. Public policymakers take great risks if competition is their only strategy to address cost and quality problems in health care."

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The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research organization committed to providing objective and timely research on the nation’s changing health system to help inform policy makers and contribute to better health care policy. HSC, based in Washington, D.C., is funded principally by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy.


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