Publication Date: January 1999
Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change
Author(s): Douglas L. Fountain; Effie Gournis; Cara S. Lesser; Deborah Alvarez
Research Area: Health
In October 1998, a team of researchers visited Seattle, Wash., to study that community's health system, how it is changing and the impact of those changes on consumers. More than 40 leaders in the health care market were interviewed as part of the Community Tracking Study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) and The Lewin Group. Seattle is one of 12 communities tracked by HSC every two years through site visits and surveys. Individual community reports are published for each round of site visits. The first site visit to Seattle, in October 1996, provided baseline information against which changes are being tracked. The Seattle market is the metropolitan statistical area that includes King, Snohomish and Island counties.
In 1996, Seattle's once isolated and remarkably stable health care market appeared headed for transformation. The prior few years had witnessed the passage and then repeal of comprehensive state health reform; Seattle's largest employer, the Boeing Company, began converting to managed care; and health plans began contracting selectively with physicians. National plans eyed the market with new interest, local plans consolidated and took on a regional focus, while local health systems pursued vertical integration to compete for managed care business.