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January 8, 2006
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New postings and analysis from Health Affairs, the leading journal of health policy. Health Affairs publishes new research each week online at For more information, contact Jon Gardner at 301-347-3930 or Chris Fleming at 301-347-3944.

Hospitals: Mission vs. Market
Available January 10 at

The January/February 2006 edition of Health Affairs, due out on Tuesday, is a thematic issue which examines hospitals and their fraying social contract. Papers address topics such as pricing and payment policies; consolidation; specialty hospitals; quality; impact of consumer-driven health plans on hospitals, and more. The new issue also includes the annual U.S. health spending trends paper, with new national data for 2004 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Print editions may be ordered for $35 each on Health Affairs' Web site starting January 10 at or from Customer Service at 301-347-3900.

2005 Year in Review: Health Affairs' 25 Most-Read Articles

As a year-end review, Health Affairs is making available online the 25 most frequently viewed articles from December 21, 2004 to December 20, 2005. Readers may view the full text of these papers until January 11, 2006 at

Health Affairs subscribers have continuous access to the full online journal, including all current content, plus online research tools. See

Informal Survey Results for Top Health Policy Stories for 2005
The growing number of uninsured people, the public health impact of Hurricane Katrina, and the start of registration for the new Medicare drug benefit were among the top health policy stories of 2005, according to respondents to an informal online survey conducted by The Commonwealth Fund and Health Affairs.

Other top stories included the mounting evidence that the U.S. health care system doesn't deliver the value it should for the costs it incurs and the continuing increase in health care costs, albeit at a somewhat slowing rate.

The Commonwealth Fund/Health Affairs survey listed 15 policy stories, compiled by Fund staff and journal editors, and asked Web site visitors to select the five they considered the most important. Top vote-getters among the 1,100 respondents were:

  • The number of uninsured people continues to grow, hitting nearly 46 million, with another 16 million reported to be "underinsured"
  • Hurricane Katrina draws dramatic attention to holes in the nation's health care safety net
  • Registration begins for new Medicare prescription drug benefit, despite widely reported confusion among seniors over the myriad choices for coverage
  • New cross-national studies add to evidence that U.S. health care system, the most expensive in the world, doesn't perform as well as those of several other industrialized nations on various clinical indicators and in reported patient experiences
  • Health care costs continue to increase, putting increased pressure on consumers, particularly the growing number citing trouble paying off medical debt.


Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The peer-reviewed journal appears bimonthly in print with additional online-only papers published weekly as Health Affairs Web Exclusives at The full text of each Health Affairs Web Exclusive is available free of charge to all Web site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. The abstracts of all articles are free in perpetuity. Web Exclusives are supported in part by a grant from the Commonwealth Fund.


Subscribe today for full online access to Health Affairs--"the bible of health policy" (Washington Post, January 12, 2005).


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Health Affairs gratefully acknowledges the support of Health Care Update News Service in the dissemination of this e-alert.