By Caitlin Owens

May 4, 2021

Two studies released yesterday in Health Affairs add to the growing body of evidence that when hospitals acquire physician practices, the cost of care goes up.

The big picture: Providers are increasingly practicing as part of hospital systems rather than independently, a trend that will likely continue to drive up U.S. health spending.

What they found: One study found that the odds of a patient receiving an inappropriate MRI referral increased by 20% after a doctor became employed by a hospital.

Most patients then received the procedure at the hospital that employed the referring doctor…