In the ongoing conversation about health care costs a frequently asked question is
“why do some hospitals charge more than others for the same services?”
The truth is, no two hospitals or health systems are quite the same.
Here are some of the reasons that care at Partners’ hospitals costs more:
Two world-renowned academic medical centers that treat the sickest patients and offer life-saving services no one else can. Mass General and the Brigham are where patients are sent when all other hope is lost. Of the patients that are transferred to them, 58% come from a non-Partners community hospital and 8% from other teaching hospitals. No other hospital network in New England comes close. And the payment we receive for the care of these very sick patients usually doesn’t cover the cost of their care.
The most licensed mental health beds among the state’s non-profit providers and the only organization planning to significantly increase its mental health capacity. When North Shore Medical Center’s Salem campus renovation is complete it will have 54 new behavioral health beds in a 120-bed Center of Excellence aligned with MGH. Mental health services are increasingly in demand as we struggle to handle the addiction epidemic, but they are among the most poorly reimbursed of all health care services.
Top doctors and some of the best patient experience scores in Boston. The ability of Partners’ hospitals to provide world-class care depends on attracting world-class talent for whom we compete financially. That investment pays off. When asked the important question, “Would you recommend this hospital to friends and family?” MGH was ranked in the 98th percentile and BWH in the 93rd nationally. There is no better measure of quality – or return on investment – than your patients’ endorsement.
The largest physician training program in the state and the most hospital-based NIH research funding in the country. We prepare more than 1,700 MDs and 1,200 students in nursing and allied health professions every year. This research and teaching commitment is about the future of our country’s health care system – we’re helping to find that next treatment or cure and assure that the next generation of clinicians is ready to deliver the latest, most effective patient care. Grants and government support of this work don’t cover the cost and add to our expense base.
A firm commitment to Medicare and Medicaid patients and to the communities we serve. Partners is caring for a growing share of patients who are covered by government insurance. Last year, this meant that 224,000 Medicare patients and 167,000 Medicaid patients were treated at a Partners facility – at a loss of over $1 billion because government payers don’t cover the full cost of their care. We also make a community benefit commitment that is almost five times that of any other health care system in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This includes hospital and physician care to patients who are unable to pay and subsidies and grants to five owned and 15 affiliated health centers that served the most disadvantaged of our citizens.
Add to this list our investment in population health management, and our post-acute care network and Partners provides more than $800 million in benefits and services each year that everyone values but no one pays for. To make these investments we depend on the clinical revenue our system generates. Without it we would have to cut back.
This article is a part of a series on Partners HealthCare facts and policy. Check back with Connect with Partners often to see more in this series or sign up to have the latest updates emailed to you.