Publication Date: January 1999
Publisher: Center for Studying Health System Change
Author(s): Jon B. Christianson; Cara S. Lesser; Caroline Rossi Steinberg; June Eichner
Research Area: Health
In December 1998, a team of researchers visited Phoenix, Ariz., 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. Phoenix 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 Phoenix, in December 1996, provided baseline information against which changes are being tracked. The Phoenix market includes Maricopa and Pinal counties.
Phoenix has experienced some of the fastest population growth in the country, attracting the entry of health plans, the creation of new facilities and the development of geographic submarkets for health care. In 1996, several potential changes faced the Phoenix market: two of the major hospital systems considered but rejected a merger, the area's public health care system was in a financial crisis, physicians began to consolidate and national for-profit health plans became increasingly dominant. Since then, major changes in the hospital sector have emerged, as the two systems that considered a merger established other strategic affiliations. For-profit health plans have solidified their position, and although the public system has weathered its financial crisis, its future is uncertain.