The Rising Costs of Healthcare: Exploring the Surge in Medicare Spending and Concerns Over Private Equity Ownership

Ben H.

Hatched by Ben H.

Feb 25, 2024

3 min read


The Rising Costs of Healthcare: Exploring the Surge in Medicare Spending and Concerns Over Private Equity Ownership


The healthcare industry in the United States is experiencing a significant surge in spending, driven by Medicare and the consolidation of physician practices by private equity firms. These trends are expected to have far-reaching implications for both patients and the economy. In this article, we will delve into the projected increase in healthcare expenditures, the role of Medicare, the growing concerns surrounding private equity ownership, and the potential consequences for patients and healthcare providers.

The Surge in Medicare Spending:

According to federal actuaries from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuary, Medicare spending is expected to skyrocket in the coming years. This surge is primarily attributed to the aging baby boomer population, with the last of the baby boomers set to enroll in Medicare by 2029. The forecast shows a substantial increase in hospital spending growth, ranging from 7.8% to 8.1% annually from 2025 to 2029. By 2031, healthcare expenditures are projected to surpass $7.2 trillion, accounting for 19.6% of the gross domestic product.

Private Equity Ownership and Consolidation:

Simultaneously, private equity firms have been actively consolidating physician practices across the country, including specialties such as anesthesia. The Federal Trade Commission recently filed a lawsuit against U.S. Anesthesia Partners, one of the largest anesthesia providers in the nation, and its private equity owner, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe. The lawsuit alleges that the consolidation of practices in Texas by U.S. Anesthesia Partners was done to drive up prices for patients.

Concerns Over Profit Prioritization:

The growing trend of private equity ownership in healthcare has raised concerns among regulators and healthcare economists. Critics argue that these firms prioritize profits over patient care, potentially leading to increased healthcare costs and reduced quality of care. FTC Chair Lina Khan emphasized the need to scrutinize "serial acquisitions and roll-ups" by private equity firms, highlighting the potential negative impact on patients and businesses.

Insights from Recent Analysis:

A peer-reviewed analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine supports some of the concerns surrounding private equity ownership. The study examined six years of data and found that hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory surgery centers served by private-equity backed anesthesia companies raised prices by an average of 26% more than facilities served by independent anesthesia practices. These findings suggest that the consolidation of physician practices by private equity firms may contribute to the rising costs of healthcare.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Advocate for Transparent Pricing: Patients should demand transparency in healthcare pricing to make informed decisions about their medical expenses. By understanding the costs associated with different providers and facilities, individuals can explore more affordable options and potentially reduce their out-of-pocket expenses.
  • 2. Support Regulatory Oversight: Patients and healthcare professionals can actively support regulatory efforts to scrutinize and regulate the consolidation of physician practices by private equity firms. By advocating for policies that prioritize patient care and affordability, individuals can contribute to a more sustainable and equitable healthcare system.
  • 3. Explore Alternative Models of Care: As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, individuals can explore alternative models of care, such as telemedicine and direct primary care. These approaches may offer more cost-effective and personalized healthcare options, reducing reliance on traditional fee-for-service models.


The surge in Medicare spending and the consolidation of physician practices by private equity firms pose significant challenges to the healthcare industry. As healthcare expenditures continue to rise, it is crucial for patients, healthcare providers, and policymakers to address these issues proactively. By advocating for transparency, supporting regulatory oversight, and exploring alternative models of care, we can strive towards a more sustainable and patient-centric healthcare system that prioritizes quality, affordability, and accessibility for all.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)