Back in September, UNC Health Care and Carolinas HealthCare Systems announced that they wanted to merge and make one mammoth hospital system. Actually, the term they used was “marry,” whatever that means…
Many have expressed concern over this impending nuptial, and what it might do to healthcare costs in North Carolina. Shortly after the engagement was announced, The Carolina Journal’s Dan Way published an article in which he quoted health economist Devon Herrick,
“It’s not really a good thing. It’s antitrust,” Herrick said. “It’s all a big, grand conspiracy, in my opinion.” Moves such as this give the hospital industry power to increase its hold on the health-care market and extract more money due to dwindling competition, he said.
Well, it looks like the family of one of the potential spouses might not approve either. Last week the Journal, quoted UNC President Margaret Spellings.
Spellings told Carolina Journal. The jury is out on whether the merger is good for consumers.
“The short answer today is, we don’t know yet,” Spellings told CJ after a UNC board meeting during which members discussed the issue. “There is lots to process here.
Rising healthcare costs are killing North Carolina's economy and this merger will make it worse.
This comes shortly after UNC board member Tom Fetzer questioned the legality of the deal given that the board had not been informed as required. Fetzer told the News and Observer
“This is, in my opinion, perhaps the most important health care development in the history of the state of North Carolina,” Fetzer said in a phone interview. “If you kept this deal secret for a year, does that fall within the definition of ‘fully informed?’
The evidence is stark that hospital mergers generally increase costs for patients and compromise quality of care. If this merger does go through, it is almost guaranteed to increase the cost of health care in North Carolina.