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#HealthyBytes

Byte-sized data points from HCCI

Jan
16

CMS-specified shoppable services accounted for 12% of 2017 health care spending among individuals with employer-sponsored insurance

​ ​% Total Medical Spending ​% Out-of-Pocket Medical Spending ​​% Medical Charges​% Medical  Utilization ​All Medical Care ​11.8 ​15.6 ​12.3​17.2​Inpatient Care​7.95.6​8.0​4.8​Outpatient Care​13.1​16.5​13.7​17.2 In response to high and growing health care spending, policymakers have proposed improving price transparency as a solution. Several such proposals rely on consumers taking ...
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Dec
17

International comparisons of health care prices from the 2017 iFHP survey

The International Federation of Health Plans (iFHP), a CEO network of the global health insurance industry based in London, in partnership with the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) in the United States, and iFHP member companies in eight countries, today published the latest International Comparison of Health Prices Report. The report compares the median prices paid by a sample of private he...
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Nov
25

Comparing Post-Acute Care Use and First Site of Care Among Medicare Advantage Enrollees and Medicare Fee-for-Service Beneficiaries

Using data from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), we examined trends in inpatient hospital admissions and post-acute care (PAC) utilization among Medicare Advantage (MA) and Fee-for-Service (FFS) beneficiaries. Specifically, we compared how frequently individuals in each group were discharged from the hospital, whether they had evidence o...
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Nov
25

Health Services Research: Comparing Different Methods of Indexing Commercial Health Care Prices

​The methodology for HCCI's Healthy Marketplace Index was published in a Methods Brief for Health Services Research.AbstractObjective: To compare different methods of indexing health care service prices for the commercially insured population across geographic markets.Data Sources: Health Care Cost Institute commercial claims data from 2012 to 2016.Study Design: We compare price ind...
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Nov
21

How common is out-of-network billing?

Congress is considering legislation to address "surprise bills", which occur when a person visits an in-network facility, but receives services from a provider that is outside of their insurer's network. Bills in both the House and Senate include provisions to determine a benchmark rate for out-of-network payments based on what in-network providers of the same specialty are paid for delivering sim...
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Nov
12

Health Affairs: Stop Blaming The Victim: The Case For Systemic Health System Transparency

In HCCI's publication in Health Affairs Blog, we examine the case for systemic health system transparency and directing changes towards key stakeholders.  From the article:"Health care costs strain the budgets of families, businesses, and governments, leaving less room for other spending and forcing painful tradeoffs. In 2017, the United States spent $3.5 trillion on health care - &...
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Nov
07

Air Ambulances – 10 Year Trends in Costs and Use

Air ambulances are either fixed wing (airplane) or rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft used to transport people in often time-sensitive medical situations. Air ambulances have become a frequent topic in the news due to their high cost and propensity to lead to surprise bills. Our analysis shows that although air ambulances are not frequently used and their use declined over the 2008 to 2017 period, ...
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Nov
05

Comparing Average Rates for Select Anesthesiology, Emergency Medicine, and Radiology Services by Local Areas

When a person unknowingly receives health care services from a provider that is outside of their insurer's network, it gives rise to the potential for a "surprise bill". Congress continues to consider legislation aimed at reducing the financial burden of "surprise bills" for patients. The approach approved by committees in both the House and Senate is to set a benchmark for the amount that can be ...
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Oct
30

Antidepressant Use Increased for Individuals with a Mood Disorder with Employer-Sponsored Insurance

Depression is a common mood disorder that affects how people feel, think, and conduct daily activities. Approximately 17 million adults (1 in 14) had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. Surveys have found that antidepressant prescribing has increased over the past two decades. For example, a 2017 National Center for Health Statistics survey found that, among people age 12 and ...
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Sep
12

Insulin Use Explains Variation in Level, but not Growth, of Out-of-Pocket Spending on Insulin Products

We previously published two blogs discussing trends in out-of-pocket spending on insulin products. First, we presented data illustrating how average monthly out-of-pocket spending in 2017 varied considerably by month, particularly for individuals enrolled in consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) that carry higher deductibles. Second, we examined the relationship between increasing point-of-sale p...
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Sep
12

Rising Point-of-Sale Prices for Insulin Correspond with Higher Out-of-Pocket Spending on Insulin in January

Earlier this week we presented data on out-of-pocket spending on insulin during each month in 2017. In that blog, we showed that enrollees in employer-sponsored health insurance paid more out-of-pocket for insulin products at the beginning of the calendar year. We examined the relationship between increasing point-of-sale prices for insulin and higher out-of-pocket spending in January for a subset...
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Sep
10

Out-of-Pocket Spending on Insulin is Highest at the Beginning of the Year

People who get health insurance through their jobs pay more than twice as much for insulin at the beginning of the year than they do at the end of the year, on average. New analysis of HCCI data shows that, nationally, in January 2017, average out-of-pocket spending on insulin was $105. This spending declined every month throughout the calendar year, likely as enrollees met their annual deductible...
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Jul
31

State Variation in Opioid Prescribing over 10 Years

Changes in opioid utilization correlated with state-level policy changes aimed at decreasing opioid prescription rates. Previous research by HCCI illustrated that national opioid utilization in pills per person fell 27% between the years of 2008 and 2017, driven by declines in the use of hydrocodone (Vicodin). In addition to giving insight into prescription opioid utilization by the commercially i...
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Jul
29

Health Care Spending in New York Growing Faster Than Rest of U.S.

Spending per person in employer-sponsored plans reaches all-time high of $6,335 Health care spending for the average New Yorker with employer-sponsored health insurance is increasing faster in New York State than the rest of the country, according to a new analysis released today by the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) and the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI).Per-person spending grew ...
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Jul
23

Comparing Commercial and Medicare Rates for Select Anesthesia, Emergency Room, and Radiology Services by State

Committees in both the House and Senate have advanced legislation that includes measures to address "surprise bills." A surprise bill results when a person unknowingly receives medical care from a provider that is not part of their insurer's network. Both pieces of legislation set a benchmark for out-of-network payments. Those benchmarks are determined based on the median in-network amount paid by...
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Jul
15

Opioid Prescriptions Declined 32% for the Commercially Insured over 10 Years (2008 to 2017)

Among people who get health insurance from their employers (56% of the population in 2017), prescription opioid use peaked in 2010/2011 and declined every year from 2012 to 2017. In a new study using the Health Care Cost Institute's commercial claims data from 2008 to 2017, we observed a decline regardless of how utilization was measured. We also found that utilization trends were driven by three ...
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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 ...
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May
02

Lower Health Care Spending and Use for People with Chronic Conditions in Consumer-Directed Health Plans

To better understand differences in spending and use across types of health plans, we examine individuals enrolled in consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) and individuals enrolled in non-CDHP health plans. CDHPs are a type of HDHP that typically include a health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). We analyzed a sample of over 10 million individuals under the age of...
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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...
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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 ...
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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 commercial...
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Jan
21

Spending on Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes and the Role of Rapidly Increasing Insulin Prices

We used health care claims data to investigate trends in total health care spending on individuals with type 1 diabetes between 2012 and 2016. We found a rapid increase in total health care spending, driven primarily by gross spending on insulin that doubled over the period. During that time insulin use rose only modestly. While the composition of insulins used shifted, the price of all types of i...
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Nov
15

Trends In Primary Care Visits

Office visits to primary care physicians (PCPs) declined 18 percent from 2012 to 2016 for adults under 65 years old with employer-sponsored health insurance, while office visits to nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) increased 129 percent.Comparing 2012 to 2016, there were 273 fewer office visits per 1,000 insured individuals to primary care physicians over that span, while vi...
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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 va...
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Sep
19

Health Affairs: Health Care Spending Under Employer-Sponsored Insurance: A 10-Year Retrospective

ABSTRACTUsing a national sample of health care claims data from the Health Care Cost Institute, we found that total spending per capita (not including premiums) on health services for enrollees in employer-sponsored insurance plans increased by 44 percent from 2007 through 2016 (average annual growth of 4.1 percent). Spending increased across all major categories of health services, although the i...
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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 provid...
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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...
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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 d...
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Apr
12

The Rising Cost of Specialty Drugs Drove Spending Increases for People with Multiple Sclerosis

This issue brief investigates how the cost of prescription drugs affects the total cost of care for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). It decomposes total health care spending by category, specifically separating out spending on specialty drugs used to treat MS, called Disease Modifying Therapies (DMTs). The issue brief subsequently examines whether changes in spending on DMTs are due to changes...
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Mar
14

Under Pressure - Adults with Hypertension are Spending Increasingly More on Health Care

This issue brief compares trends in health care spending from 2012 to 2016 for adults with employer-sponsored insurance who were diagnosed with hypertension to those not diagnosed with hypertension. It also considers how changes in prescription drug spending compare to changes in prescription drug use for adults with a hypertension diagnosis.     Download PDF File Here
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 ...
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Feb
09

Health Affairs: Health Spending Growth Is Accelerating; Prices Are In The Driver’s Seat

 HEALTH AFFAIRS BLOG:"Perhaps nothing illustrates the intractability of America's struggle with health spending more than the recent announcement by Amazon, JP Morgan, and Berkshire Hathaway that they were founding a new entity to address health care costs for their employees. Despite lacking any concrete details this announcement managed to wipe billions of dollars in market capitalization f...
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Feb
01

New England Journal of Medicine: Consistently High Turnover in the Group of Top Health Care Spenders

 NEJM CATALYST:"The concentration of most U.S. health care spending in a small proportion of individuals is well documented. The notion that high health care spending only affects a small portion of people in a given year is particularly relevant to the ongoing policy debate about how to make health insurance affordable for all, while accommodating people with complex health care needs and ac...
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Feb
01

Top Spenders Among the Commercially Insured Increased Spending Concentration and Consistent Turnover from 2013 to 2015

 This issue brief explores the distribution of health care spending among commercially insured individuals, with a focus on the top 5 percent of spenders and turnover within that group from year to year. It considers the share of spending incurred by this group of top spenders, how those dollars are distributed among the health care service categories, turnover within the group of top spender...
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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...
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Dec
07

Health Affairs: Understanding Health Spending - Lessons From The Healthy Marketplace Index

HEALTH AFFAIRS BLOG:"As policymakers consider actions to address challenges with the Affordable Care Act and ongoing growth in health spending, the importance of understanding local health care market dynamics is more important than ever. Traditionally, policy makers and other stakeholders have evaluated commercial health care markets' total spending and often attributed high spending to high pric...
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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 t...
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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...
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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 ...
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Nov
20

New England Journal of Medicine: The Value of Health Insurance through Price Discounts

 NEJM CATALYST:"As context for the ongoing health care reform debate, we analyzed Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) data. HCCI is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization aimed at providing complete and accurate information about health care utilization and costs in the United States.Our goal was to demonstrate the value of insurance through these discounted rates. We did so by calculating media...
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Aug
01

Health Affairs: Medicare Competitive Bidding Program Realized Price Savings For Durable Medical Equipment Purchases

ABSTRACT:From the inception of the Medicare program there have been questions regarding whether and how to pay for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies. In 2011 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented a competitive bidding program to reduce spending on durable medical equipment and similar items. Previously, CMS had used prices in an administrati...
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Aug
01

Trends in Total and Out-of-Pocket Spending in Metro Areas: 2012-2015

This data brief examines geographic variation in health care per capita spending, with a focus on consumer per capita out-of-pocket spending across geographies (2012-2015). It also explores whether the proportion of people enrolled in consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) and the proportion not utilizing health care services had any influence on out-of-pocket spending.​   Download PDF File H...
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Feb
28

Non-Shoppable Health Care Services: Inpatient Hospitalizations

This data brief reports on spending and utilization in populations likely unable to shop for a hospital prior to seeking care, comparing spending and length-of-stay for individuals who were admitted through the emergency department (ED) to that of individuals who needed ambulance services the day of their admission through the ED.    Download PDF File Here
Jan
01

JAMA Internal Medicine: A Perspective on Out-of-Pocket Spending

To the Editor Understanding out-of-pocket spending is critical to understanding health care costs in the United States. We applaud the efforts of Adrion et al as an important contribution to understanding the out-of-pocket spending of the commercially insured population younger than 65 years. The commercially insured comprise over 50% of the nonelderly US population and, as demonstrated by Ad...
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Dec
01

Medicare Advantage Health Care Utilization - Observation Stays

This data brief reports on outpatient observations stays in the Medicare Advantage population from 2010 through 2014. The results show that the rate of observations stays increased in total as well as following hospitalizations.    Download PDF File Here
Nov
01

Medicare Advantage Health Care Utilization - Hospital Readmissions

 This data brief, reports on five readmission rate measures for the Medicare Advantage (MA) population: 30-day all-cause hospital-wide readmissions and 30-day all-cause readmissions following acute myocardial infarction (AMI), heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumonia. The results show that MA readmission rates have been declining over the past five years. &nb...
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Sep
01

Consumer-Driven Health Plans: A Cost and Utilization Analysis

This data brief examines the health care use and spending from 2010-2014 for people who are enrolled in consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs), and compares these trends to non-CDHP enrollees. Findings indicate that although fewer total dollars were spent on health care for CDHP enrollees, they had higher per capita out-of-pocket spending on deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.    Downloa...
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Jul
01

Necessary versus Sufficient Claims Data

This data brief compares membership characteristics and health care service prices in non-ERISA and ERISA populations. The results suggest that non-ERISA data may be sufficient for policy relevant analyses, even when ERISA data is not available.    Download PDF File Here
Jun
20

2014 Diabetes Health Care Cost and Utilization Report

The 2014 Diabetes Health Care Cost and Utilization Report examines how much is spent on health care for adults and children with diabetes, where those dollars are spent, and how that compares to people without diabetes. It is based on the health care claims of more than 40 million Americans younger than 65 covered by employer-sponsored insurance from 2012 to 2014.   Key Findings​Per capita sp...
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May
16

Children’s Health Spending Report 2010-2014

Children's Health Spending: 2010-2014 examines spending on health care for children covered by employer-sponsored insurance from 2010 to 2014. For the first time, HCCI analyzed children's health care spending trends at the state level, reporting on Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.   Key Findings ...
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