Healthcare finance: What's in store for 2015

Last year brought healthcare finance costly Ebola cases and millions of newly insured Americans as the result of the Affordable Care Act. What will 2015 bring?

First, expect greater price transparency in the upcoming year. That initiative began last year when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released data regarding how much individual doctors were paid by the Medicare program--information kept secret for decades due to litigation. And the push continues with the release of the new Treasury Department rules for not-for-profit hospitals released late last year, Accounting Today reported. The rules nudge hospitals to provide more financial aid to uninsured patients and require that they do not charge them more for care than those who have health insurance.

However, this is far from a universal salve for the challenges bedeviling individual consumers trying to make sense of the U.S. healthcare system. See it more as a band-aid--trying to cover one of the nostrils of Mount Rushmore. And expect most changes that address transparency issues moving forward to be similar in their overall effect. Steven Brill doesn't expect costs to be going down anytime soon in healthcare delivery, and that is a rational assumption to take this year.

There should also continue to be a spate of startup companies that specialize in price transparency for healthcare services and assisting patients, although it is likely years before one or two companies become dominant and a shakeout occurs.

Expect also to see big profits and stock gains among publicly-traded healthcare companies, both hospitals and health plans, particularly the latter that deal in Medicaid managed care. These companies all gained from the millions of Americans who gained health insurance as a result of the ACA--consider them paying customers from their point of view.

As a result, do not expect to see any major moves to address the continuing rise in pay for executives at or near the top of the pyramid at hospitals and health insurers. There may be some tweaks around the edges, but the relentless march toward the seven-figure payday will move on, mostly unabated.

To learn more:
- check out the Accounting Today article

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