HCA, the hospital system which controls 163 hospitals from New Hampshire to California, has seen its profits soar recently. There is a whole NYT article explaining their success. Of course, the author had to bring in Bain and Romney, but this really should not be about politics. Equity firms survive to make money. If your company finds a way to do that then equity firms will invest in you. If fact, HCA’s success has “inspired 35 buyouts of hospitals or chains of facilities in the last two and a half years by private equity firms eager to repeat that windfall.” I still believe in capitalism, especially in the healthcare field, but like anything else, it could go too far. The first problem is fraud, which HCA is now being investigated for (i.e. doing procedures on people who do not need them). The other problems can be out and out greed perpetuated by administrators to the detriment of the patients. The article explains that HCA’s success is due to:
- Figuring out how to get more revenue from private insurance companies, patients and Medicare by billing much more aggressively for its services than ever before (one medical axis fighting another axis of evil is fine with me)
- Finding ways to reduce emergency room overcrowding and expenses (I believe they are onto something here because are NOT treating patients with non-urgent unless they pay upfront)
- Experimenting with new ways to reduce the cost of its medical staff (this is the biggest problem I have with HCA and all due to administrator greed)
I recommending reading the piece. While I commend anyone who finds ways to ethically make healthcare more profitable, I get sick to my stomach when I see how the suits are destroying the patient/doctor/nurse relationship. The biggest questions that were not asked by the NYT were:
- How many administrators work at HCA?
- What is the ratio of administrators to doctors?
- How much do these administrators make?