Hospitals Don’t Shift Costs From Medicare or Medicaid to Private Insurers | Health Care Economics, Insurance, Payment | JAMA Forum Archive | JAMA Network
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Hospitals Don’t Shift Costs From Medicare or Medicaid to Private Insurers

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has allowed states to expand Medicaid. Medicaid pays hospitals prices that are lower than those paid by private insurers, although the price difference varies from state to state. Does this cause hospitals to charge private insurers even more to make up the difference, a cost shift?

Despite a substantial body of evidence to the contrary, many people believe hospitals shift costs in this way. For example, in 2014, Don George, MBA, the president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont wrote, “When government reimbursements are insufficient to cover the cost of the services a facility provides to Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries, hospitals charge patients with private insurance enough to cover not only the cost of their services, but the shortfall created by government reimbursements as well.”

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