Children’s hospitals have become a big growth industry in health care, Kaiser Health News reported on Monday. Many of these facilities are not only getting larger and fancier, but they are effectively lobbying Congress for special treatment and negotiating with insurance companies for premium pay rates.
“Right now, we don’t know very much about how children’s hospitals perform,” Kaiser Health News quotes Elliot Fisher, a physician and expert on health care at the Dartmouth Medical School, as saying. “There aren’t a lot of data on quality.”
Because children are insured at much higher rates than adults, children’s hospitals provide little charity care,” Kaiser found. They also tend to dominate local markets for essential services to children, giving them strong negotiating positions with insurance companies in dictating the rates paid for services.
In future stories Kaiser will examine how hospital developers were able to build a third children’s hospital in Orlando, Fla. The final installment will look at how the changing budget environment may threaten the continued profitability of the hospitals.