A Special Report on Regulating the Health Care Market

In 1998, the journal Health Services Research (HSR) published a special issue devoted to recent research and scholarly thinking on the evolving role of federal and state regulation in the changing health care marketplace.

Seven articles and a foreword make up the special issue.

Key Recommendations

Overall, the articles reached these conclusions:

  • Managed care offers some benefits to consumers by lowering prices and improving coordination of care, but these lower costs often come at the expense of existing providers and may in fact lower the social welfare of consumers.

  • Continuing consolidation may improve efficiency in health care delivery but will increase the bargaining power of providers in relations to health plans.

  • State laws relating to provider cooperation, ownership conversion, provider rights to participate in developing networks, and patient rights to access providers may foster better care for patients, but also may be political mechanisms used by providers to insulate themselves from the vagaries of the marketplace.

  • Whether health market changes and regulatory actions ultimately benefit consumers is unclear and may take years to sort out empirically.

    Some 4,000 subscribers of Health Services Research received the issue. RWJF purchased an additional 2,000 copies to distribute to federal and state policymakers, legislative staff, and others in the health policy field.