Hospitals, other providers welcome ruling, look forward to more paying customers

Jun 28, 2012

Health-care providers in Washington are in the midst of changes that will speed up now that the federal health law has been sustained. The ruling was welcome news to hospitals, doctors and many others in the medical field.

They're especially glad nearly everyone will have health insurance. That’s been one of the big challenges in the current health system. People get sick and go to the hospital, even if they can’t afford it.

By 2014, when subsidies for insurance kick-in, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler predicts about 80% of the uninsured will get coverage.  

“Those people right now that are accessing the health system but can't pay their own bills, now they're going to have insurance,” he says. "They'll pay more of their own bills, and you won't see a lot of this cost shifting that we’ve seen in the system, of uncompensated care."

That uncompensated hospital care currently gets passed on, through higher bills for everyone else. Hospitals have agreed to lower their fees when they start getting more paying customers, in 2014, as part of the compromise that led to the federal law.

They’ll also get paid differently. The goal is to get rid of financial incentives for unnecessary tests and procedures that drive up costs. Hospitals and doctors have been investing millions to get ready for these changes.