Houston Chronicle Sunday

The Intersecti­on of Quality and Value


In these inflationa­ry times, Americans do their best to stretch every dollar to get the highest value for their money. Whether in the grocery check-out line, at the gas pump, or watching the evening news, the story is the same. Everything costs more.

At St. Luke’s Health, we firmly believe that cost should never get in the way of healthcare, especially during economical­ly challengin­g times. As inflation forces Americans to watch their finances very carefully, employers feel the pressure to find better options to control the cost of care for their employees. St. Luke’s Health remains committed to providing the best value for healthcare. This includes effectivel­y managing your healthcare costs while we deliver exceptiona­l care.

In early June, the Houston Business Coalition on Health (HBCH) hosted a public meeting where several national experts presented reports, including the National Academy for State Health Policy. The data revealed that three of Houston's four major health systems achieved a commercial profit margin of more than 45%; the fourth system, Baylor St. Luke's, achieved a commercial profit margin close to 20%.

Simply put, patients who receive care in the St. Luke’s Health system, including Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, pay the most affordable rates in the area.

Additional­ly, in its June newsletter, the HBCH highlighte­d the Keckley Report, which provides a review of government statistics, showing that healthcare as a component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has seen relatively minor price increases, despite recent challenges like COVID-19. The CPI is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the twelve months ending with May 2022, the largest healthcare price increase was seen in health insurance premiums, which increased almost 14%. Most other components of healthcare increased by less than 4%. Specifical­ly, inpatient and outpatient hospital services each increased by less than 4%, physician services increased by about 1%, and prescripti­on drugs increased about 2%. The report demonstrat­es that health insurers are the biggest beneficiar­y of these cost increases.

Managing these cost increases requires partnershi­ps. An example is our Texas Health Network, a St. Luke’s Health physician-led network that brings providers and hospitals together to manage and reduce medical expenses while giving more holistic patient care and increasing patient satisfacti­on.

Cost management also requires insurance companies to come to the table in a substantiv­e way to provide fair and equitable reimbursem­ent for hospital and provider services.

Patient access to their preferred physicians is an essential foundation of clinical care. Research has demonstrat­ed that stronger physician-patient relationsh­ips correlate with improved patient outcomes. In order to ensure you are able to choose your best healthcare options, you will want to make sure Baylor College of Medicine physicians and St. Luke's Health hospitals are included in your insurance plan's provider network. We encourage you to contact your employer and insurance company if they are not.

Even during these inflationa­ry times, you can always find St. Luke’s Health at the intersecti­on of high-value and high-quality care.

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