The Wall Street Journal reports on how a number of policies and market forces are combining to put added pressure on rural hospitals. Meanwhile, other news outlets report on the challenge of making the health system affordable and the health law's new options for pregnant women.
The Wall Street Journal: Rural Hospitals Feel Pinch
Rural hospitals have long been under financial pressure from the rising cost of providing health care, the dwindling number of patients staying overnight and the shift of more profitable services like cardiac care to bigger medical centers. Now, the Obama administration, saying that some rural hospitals have been receiving subsidies they weren't meant to get, has proposed eliminating a further $2.1 billion in Medicare payments next fiscal year for hospitals designated as providing "crucial access." In addition, under the new federal health law, hospitals are losing government subsidies for providing care to the uninsured (Bauerlein, 5/11).
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Hard Part Of Affordable Care Act Is Making Health System Affordable
The typical American family of four under age 65 spends about 40 percent of its household income on health care. It prompts disbelief. How can that possibly be? But the Milliman Medical Index estimated that a family of four spent on average $20,030 on health care, including the cost of health benefits and out-of-pocket spending, in 2013. At the same time, median household income has been estimated at $52,100 (Boulton, 5/11).
The Associated Press: New Options For Pregnant Women Under Health Law
The health care law has opened up an unusual opportunity for some mothers-to-be to save on medical bills for childbirth. Lower-income women who signed up for a private policy in the new insurance exchanges will have access to additional coverage from their state's Medicaid program if they get pregnant. Some women could save hundreds of dollars on their share of hospital and doctor bills. Medicaid already pays for nearly half of U.S. births, but this would create a way for the safety-net program to supplement private insurance for many expectant mothers (Alonso-Zaldivar, 5/11).