|[June 09, 2014]
Fitch: U.S. Hospital Charge Growth Will Remain Slow
CHICAGO --(Business Wire)--
Growth in hospital charges for the coming years will likely continue
within a range below its historical average, Fitch Ratings says. We
expect the lingering impact of sequestration on Medicare, the continuing
reimbursement pressure and the recent flattening of consumer price index
(CPI) growth for hospital and related services to exert downward
pressure on charges. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
reported that average charges for most hospital services rose by less
than 5% in 2011 and 2012. The data was taken from over 3,000 hospitals
that accept Medicare.
As price increases are not necessarily directly correlated with
reimbursement, the impact on hospitals will vary depending on payor mix
and reimbursement methodology. Providers reimbursed under the percentage
of charge methodology will likely continue to use charge increases to
offset reimbursement pressures from other payors, including Medicare.
And providers with a very high exposure government payors (Medicare and
Medicaid) will only have a limited capacity to use charge increases to
generate a meaningful benefit to their bottom line.
The sequestration cuts impacting Medicare payments that went into effect
in April of lst year will continue to hold charge increases down. We
estimate the annualized impact of sequestration at approximately $11
billion across healthcare providers. Lower growth in hospital charges is
reflected in the slowing growth in the hospital price index, which was
4.8% from 2011 to 2012. It continued to fall to 4.4% from 2012 to 2013,
and 2014 has shown a continuation of that trend.
The above article originally appeared as a post on the Fitch Wire credit
market commentary page. The original article can be accessed at www.fitchratings.com.
All opinions expressed are those of Fitch Ratings.
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