A general overview of futures and forwards contracts can be read here: Wikipedia
Two of the many textbooks on trading futures contracts are:
Fundamentals of Futures and Options Markets, John Hull, Boston: Prentice Hall 2011
Futures and Options: Theory and Applications, Hans Stoll and Robert Whaley, South-Western Publishing 1992
Futures contracts are standardized so they are fungible and can be easily traded. This means the products and services provided are specified for grade and quality. "Bundled pricing" does this in the healthcare setting. Examples are:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has established the Bundled Payments for Care Initiative (BPCI) where healthcare providers enter into bundled payment arrangements for episodes of care. Over 500 facilities are participating in this program.
Reference pricing for episodes of care has been championed by employer associations such as the Catalyst for Payment Reform. The impressive results of implementing reference pricing by CalPERS are described in the academic literature: Increases In Consumer Cost Sharing Redirect Patient Volumes And Reduce Hospital Prices For Orthopedic Surgery, James C. Robinson, and Timothy T. Brown; Health Affairs August 2013 vol. 32 no. 8 1392-1397
The largest exchanges in the world, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Intercontinental Exchange, are focused on trading standardized products. The range of products traded is remarkable and includes tangibles and intangibles.
The importance to daily life of futures trading is often underestimated. Merton Milller gave a classic speech where he identified a type of futures contract traded on an exchange as the most significant financial innovation in the last 20 years: Transcript
Legislation and Regulation:
State governments are enacting legislation to encourage the use of bundled pricing in healthcare.
See for example, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Section 64 of Chapter 288 of the Acts of 2010: An Act To Promote Cost Containment, Transparency And Efficiency In The Provision Of Quality Health Insurance For Individuals And Small Businesses
Federal regulation of the futures markets is conducted by the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission: CFTC