But there may be bad news ahead for the managed health corporations too: "Congress is examining right now whether managed care provides quality health care, and there's a growing body of evidence suggesting it does not. If this trend continues and premiums rise, there is a strong possibility that growing complaints from the electorate would push the government to get more involved in overseeing this industry." Back to you, Hillary?
With Columbia/HCA posting a whopping $1.29 billion fourth quarter loss, while buyout firms are poised to plow a badly needed $600 million into Oxford, managed health care is looking anything but rosy for consumers. Says TIME writer Bernard Baumohl, the consequences could be either a rise in premiums or new mergers in the industry. "Either way, it's not going to be good news for consumers," says Baumohl. "Mergers will limit the range of choices in the industry, which could also ultimately push up premiums."