Much ado about nothing? The financial impact of physician-owned specialty hospitals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The U.S. hospital industry has recently witnessed a number of policy changes aimed at aligning hospital payments to costs and these can be traced to significant concerns regarding selection of profitable patients and procedures by physician-owned specialty hospitals. The policy responses to specialty hospitals have alternated between payment system reforms and outright moratoriums on hospital operations including one in the recently enacted Affordable Care Act. A key issue is whether physician-owned specialty hospitals pose financial strain on the larger group of general hospitals through cream-skimming of profitable patients, yet there is no study that conducts a systematic analysis relating such selection behavior by physician-owners to financial impacts within hospital markets. The current paper takes into account heterogeneity in specialty hospital behavior and finds some evidence of their adverse impact on profit margins of competitor hospitals, especially for-profit hospitals. There is also some evidence of hospital consolidation in response to competitive pressures by specialty hospitals. Overall, these findings underline the importance of the payment reforms aimed at correcting distortions in the reimbursement system that generate incentives for risk-selection among providers groups. The identification techniques will also inform empirical analysis on future data testing the efficacy of these payment reforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-131
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Health Economics and Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


  • Hospital ownership
  • Hospital reimbursement
  • Market structure
  • Specialty hospital

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