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Keywords:

  • System change;
  • payment innovation

When first implemented in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, the Buyers Health Care Action Group's (BHCAG) purchasing approach received considerable attention as an employer-managed, consumer-driven health care model embodying many of the principles of managed competition. First BHCAG and, later, a for-profit management company attempted to export this model to other communities. Their efforts were met with resistance from local hospitals and, in many cases, apathy by employers who were expected to be supportive. This experience underscores several difficulties that appear to be inherent in implementing purchasing models based on competing care systems. It also, once again, suggests caution in drawing lessons from community-level experiments in purchasing health care.