In theory most of the quality healthcare delivery systems and the healthcare finance systems will work in the same way in 2018. However, as we've discussed in our previous news here, the record-breaking investments into healthcare ensures that there will be changes in 2019. (Also discussed here) If the market stays as unpredictable in 2019 as in 2018 and some of that upheaval spills into the health insurance sectors, what then?
With this in mind, here are some questions that will shape our coverage of quality healthcare insurance in the coming year.
(Related: Market Makers Reveal Real 2018 Individual Health Rates)
1. Will more companies try to disguise more major medical insurance products as something else?
One symptom of a regulatory-driven market breakdown is a participants' effort to escape from the official market into grey alternatives. Many insurers, agents and consumers have already tried to sidestep the challenges plaguing the individual medical market by focusing on partial insurance and short-term healthcare indemnity insurance.
Up till now the feat of patients' facing gaps in coverage and lawsuits have held down many agents' sales of major medical substitutes. The more individual markets deteriorate, the less squemish the big market players may be about trying to work around it.
2. Will hospitals collapse?
Health insurers see hospitals as the largest components in sophisticated quality healthcare systems that will tend to have much higher profit margins than the health insurers. S&P ratings are predicting, in a look at top industry trends for 2019, that the hospital rates should do well in 2019.
“We expect hospitals to see very low single-digit organic growth (consisting of near-zero volume growth and low-single-digit blended reimbursement rate increases), while companies providing outsourced services to hospitals and outpatient providers should grow slightly faster,” the S&P analysts write. “We expect industry participants to see modestly higher bad debt expense in 2018 (reflecting slightly lower insurance coverage levels and the increasing prevalence of high-deductible health plans, given difficulty in collecting amounts owed by consumers).”
Many hospitals, especially those treating uninsured patients, operate on thin margins. This means if the individual market goes through some severe problems, some hospitals could have rapid changes in ownership.
3. Will doctors change employer?
Consumers in many communites have already seen psychologists drop out of the market for inner-city and higher paying jobs which are in high demand. Mental healthcare providers often refuse to provide quality healthcare for the rates health plans are willing to pay them. The S&P analysts say they expect for payers to continue to focus on containing costs.
If health plans try to cut costs too much, it’s possible that large numbers of medical doctors could follow mental health care providers out of the health plan provider next door.