The Greenville Health System-Palmetto Health partnership plan is raising some concerns about cost and quality.
The Greenville News reports health care analysts said there needs to be a bit of caution due to the potential consequences of hospital consolidation. Their biggest worry is that health care costs would go up as a result of the partnership.
The proposed partnership between the Greenville and Columbia-based healthcare providers would create a new company with an estimated 1.2 million patients a year, bring in $3.9 billion in annual revenue and become one of the 50-largest health systems in the nation. Nearly half of South Carolinians will live within 15 minutes of the new health company’s physician practices, hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
According to the newspaper, a 2012 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation determined that hospital mergers usually result in higher prices for services and care no matter where they occur. The report said increases can exceed 20 percent in concentrated markets.
Greenville Health System insists the two hospitals are not merging, however. Instead the end result would be a new company that will handle only strategic and financial matters while each hospital would remain as a separate, independent legal entity. A spokeswoman argued assumptions about cost and quality would not apply to their situation as a result.