Blog
#HealthyBytes

Byte-sized data points from HCCI

May
31

HCCI will be presenting at AcademyHealth's 2019 Annual Research Meeting

The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) is proud to present five posters at the AcademyHealth 2019 Annual Research Meeting in Washington, D.C. These posters, which cover HCCI research on a wide variety of topics, focus on health care spending and utilization trends among the commercially insured population. If you are attending the conference, please check out the schedule below to meet our staff an...
Continue reading
May
15

Examining the adoption of a new Medicare billing code for cognitive assessments: a slow but steady uptake

  On January 1, 2017, the Medicare program started reimbursing providers for a new procedure code for clinical visits for cognitive assessments and care planning services (CPT code G0505). This newly-billable service is intended to improve the care of patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias and hopefully increase early detection and diagnosis. A G0505 visit includes a complete...
Continue reading
Apr
30

Past the Price Index: Exploring Actual Prices Paid for Specific Services by Metro Area

As policymakers, employers, and patients increasingly struggle with rising health care costs, there is a lack of clarity around the actual price of health care services and why those prices are so different. Recent efforts have focused on greater price transparency as a way to impact growing prices. A range of proposals from both Congress and the White House seek to shed more light on the confusin...
Continue reading
Apr
02

Shifting Care from Office to Outpatient Settings: Services are Increasingly Performed in Outpatient Settings with Higher Prices

Where people receive health care matters, especially in terms of costs. The same services may have a much higher price tag when performed in one setting rather than another, but this price difference is rarely publicized to patients. To understand what settings people used and how prices differed, we looked at the utilization and average price paid from 2009 to 2017 for a set of services commonly ...
Continue reading
Mar
28

Surprise out-of-network medical bills during in-network hospital admissions varied by state and medical specialty, 2016

  Out-of-network billing practices have increasingly garnered attention as individuals with commercial health insurance continue to experience " surprise billing ." A surprise medical bill commonly describes a charge to a patient for care delivered by an out-of-network (OON) professional who works within an in-network facility. We used the Health Care Cost Institute's (HCCI) vast commerc...
Continue reading
Oct
24

Understanding how price growth affected areas differently across the country

Recently, the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) published its Healthy Marketplace Index (HMI) – Price Index report, examining relative health care prices in 112 different metropolitan areas. This report is the first in a new series of releases from the HMI project , funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which compares commercial health care markets across the country. We found widespread v...
Continue reading
Sep
11

ER facility prices grew in tandem with faster-growing charges from 2009-2016

HCCI often reports the prices of health care services, defined as the average amount a provider is paid for a given service based on negotiations with health care insurers. These prices typically represent a portion of charges , which are the amounts health care providers bill for the procedures they perform. The charge amount is often the starting point for negotiations between insurers and provi...
Continue reading
May
30

ER spending among the commercially insured continued to rise in 2016, driven by the price and use of high severity cases (2009-2016)

HCCI recently expanded its reporting on emergency room (ER) spending trends to include the most recent data available (2016). We characterize trends in spending, price, and utilization for the five Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes designed to capture the level of severity and complexity of every ER visit. While average prices for all five ER CPT codes were higher in 2016 than in 2009, th...
Continue reading
Apr
24

Interactive Tool: Disease Modifying Therapies Drove 82% of Total Increase in Health Care Spending for People with Multiple Sclerosis

In a recent issue brief , HCCI found that the already high cost of care for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) rose dramatically over the past several years. The primary driver was the increasing cost of a small group of prescription drugs called Disease Modifying Therapies (DMTs). To illustrate the role prescription drug prices play in driving overall health care spending for people with MS, we ...
Continue reading
Feb
21

How common is your health care spending?

It is well documented that Americans spend a lot on health care, but this issue is often discussed in terms of share of GDP, billions of dollars, or an astoundingly high hospital bill. These numbers can be hard to relate to; it's hard to imagine billions of dollars, let alone a share of the national economy. A pricey bill may get our attention, but can seem like a special case that doesn't relate ...
Continue reading
Tags:
Feb
14

A Valentine’s Day-Themed Health Care Spending Map

Valentine's Day is the second-most popular day to pop the question, and millions of couples are expected to get engaged today. According to The Knot's 2017 Jewelry and Engagement Study , the average national cost for an engagement ring in the U.S. is $6,351, just under $1,000 more than average national health care spending per person ( $5,407 in 2016 ). And just like average health care costs, the...
Continue reading
Dec
20

Workers in low income counties more likely to be long-term opioid users

Past literature has found links between higher opioid use and local economic conditions for people enrolled in public health programs, but there has been little discussion of whether this relationship occurs among the privately insured. Using HCCI claims data and county level income data from the US Census Bureau, we examined how a county's median household income relates to long-term opioid use a...
Continue reading
Dec
04

ER spending increased 85%, driven by price increases for the most severe cases (2009-2015)

Medical bills from the Emergency Room (ER) are a mystery to many patients in the US health system. From incredibly high, varying charges to surprise bills resulting from in/out of network confusion , many Americans have no idea what to expect when it comes to the cost of this necessary service. Recently, Vox reporter, Sarah Kliff , has begun collecting ER bills in an attempt to "bring transparency...
Continue reading
Nov
29

Welcome to the HCCI blog – HealthyBytes!

We've launched a blog to expand the way in which we share findings and insights based on our data with the wider world. While we remain committed to our signature publications such as our annual Health Care Cost and Utilization Report  and our Issue and Data Briefs, sometimes a finding is just too interesting to wait for a more formal publication. We would love feedback from readers on the nu...
Continue reading
Tags:
Nov
29

Price of insulin prescription doubled between 2012 and 2016

In honor of National Diabetes Month, our inaugural blog post focuses on a topic of particular interest to people with diabetes: the price of insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for the body's ability to use sugar and prevent dangerously high and potentially deadly levels of blood sugar. Diabetics are unable to make enough insulin to support their bodies' needs, and thus many are dependent ...
Continue reading