Public, charity hospitals seek to widen patient base under AHA

Public health systems and charity hospitals are creating their own insurance plans in an effort to attract a more stable class of patients and widen their customer base beyond their historically poor, underserved clients, according to the New York Times.

New York City's public hospital agency, the Health and Hospitals Corporation, created MetroPlus, which offers options for patients with slightly higher incomes, more education and stable employment, according to the article. New York City has 22,000 enrolled members as of this month and expects to enroll 40,000 by the end of this year.

"It's a potential significant source of additional revenue," Alan Aviles, the corporation's president, told the Times

MetroPlus costs less money because it only cover patients at 11 public hospitals and four private ones in the city, with more companies negotiating to join the network. The corporation hopes new customers will find that the hospitals were underrated and the plan will bring in a $120 million annual profit to help offset the $250 million annual deficit the system runs on, according to the Times.

Public hospitals, which typically score lower in Medicare patient satisfaction, hope the move will boost their credibility and prove they are just as capable as private hospitals, with which they score similarly in following protocols for treatments, the Times reported. In turn, they want to attract doctors who wouldn't normally work at public hospitals.

The trend is taking of all over the country, with public and charity hospitals using the health exchanges to reach more clients. For example, L.A. Care in Los Angeles has enrolled about 8,000 people via the California exchange so far, while the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit signed up 4,000 people for its exchange plan, according to the article.

A 2013 study revealed patients with private insurance receive better hospital care than those without it, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Disparities occurred because of delays or restrictions in care and unequal access to newer technology and doctors who provide them with more individualized treatment, or have access to "newer, more expensive treatments," the study said.

To learn more:
- here's the Times article