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By The Numbers

The high cost of hospital mergers

Janet Nguyen Mar 21, 2016

We’re glad to have you back.  Here are some need-to-know numbers to get you pumped for the rest of the week. 

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Turns out the bigger the hospital network, the steeper the expense. In a new study, researchers looked at hundreds of hospitals from different markets that ended up merging, and found that these unions lead to price increases of 6 to 10 percent. Yet the threat of all that consolidated power hasn’t really been scrutinized at the state and federal level, reports Marketplace’s Dan Gorenstein. That’s because there is a lack of hard evidence proving the relationship between a merger and a cost hike. Things may change, though, with the release of the report — at least three attorney general’s offices have already asked for it.

While doctor’s offices may be seeing a boon in revenue through mergers, post offices aren’t seeing as much financial luck. Employment issues are brewing at the U.S. Postal Service. Working for the USPS, which pulled in $69 billion last year, once guaranteed decades-long stability, but job security there is now uncertain. “Unfunded liabilities” there are roughly 125 percent more than the agency’s 2015 revenue.

Problems with another type of communication — social media — are plaguing Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari and his government have introduced a “social media bill” to the Nigerian Senate, writes Quartz. Activists say that they bill — which calls to ban “frivolous petitions” — is a a way of punishing anyone who disagrees with the government.  Should the bill pass, those convicted may have to pay upwards of 2 million naira (equivalent to $10,000).   

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