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The Best Solutions to High Healthcare Costs Are Local

Posted by Laura McMullen on Tue, Jul 11, 2017

A new interactive mapping tool and issue brief released by the Health Care Cost Institute with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows wide variation in prices for different categories of medical services within communities and across the country between 2012 and 2014.

map of US.png

The Healthy Marketplace Index: Medical Service Price Category Index uses annual health care claims data from over 40 million Americans under age 65 with employer-sponsored insurance which accounts for more than 25% of the commercially insured population in the US. Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and UnitedHealthcare contribute data to this project. The information is organized by CBSA, Core Based Statistical Areas, which are commonly used geographic regions of economic integration comprised of counties.

Users can look at costs in three categories: inpatient, outpatient, and physician services. Costs rose in all three categories although not at the same rate. “Prices for outpatient services rose fastest, while physician price increases were minimal. The most consistent growth was seen in inpatient prices which increased, on average, five percent each year,” the report notes.

Other highlights are:

  • There’s a link between inpatient and outpatient price levels. The report hypothesizes that “some aspects of the drivers underlying inpatient and outpatient prices may be related, such as commonalities in labor supply or population health.” HCCI found only a minimal relationship between physician services and the other two categories.
  • Some markets are consistent in pricing across categories. For example, prices in Cincinnati are consistently below average, prices in Nashville are consistently average, and prices are consistently high in Dallas. Other markets, such as Trenton, New Jersey had average inpatient and physician prices, but high outpatient prices compared to the national averages.

Download the issue brief or try out the mapping tool to see what your key markets look like.

Tags: health insurance, claims data, healthcare cost, inpatient services, outpatient services

Measuring the Performance of the US Health System

Posted by Laura McMullen on Thu, Jun 01, 2017

Healthcare spending represented 17.8% of US GDP in 2015. What are we getting for our money? The Kaiser Family Foundation and Peterson Center on Healthcare are trying to find out.

US healthcare.jpgThe newly redesigned dashboard added to the US Health System Tracker makes it easier for people to find the latest quality, spending, access, and outcome metrics describing the US health system. According to the announcement, the dashboard shows an overview of the system’s performance compared to other similar countries as well as analysis of specific indicators measuring health and wellbeing, quality of care, health spending, and access and affordability.

The Tracker first launched in 2014 as a partnership between the Kaiser Family Foundation, a leader in health policy analysis and health journalism, and Peterson Center on Healthcare, a non-profit organization that searches for innovative solutions that increase quality and reduce cost in healthcare and accelerates adoption nationwide.

The latest brief based on the Tracker data is US health system is performing better, though still lagging behind other countries. Here are some findings that focus on the cost of healthcare:

  • The uninsured rate among nonelderly Americans dropped from 18% in 2010 to 10% in 2016.
  • The percentage of adults who reported being worried about medical bills dropped 10% between 2011 and 2016.
  • The percentage of Americans who put off or didn’t seek care due to cost dropped from 13% in 2009 to 9% in 2015.
  • Health spending per capita grew 3.6% annually from 2010 to 2015.

Does higher utilization in the short run lead to healthier populations and lower long-term spending?

Tags: Healthcare, US health system, healthcare cost, uninsured

 

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