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...
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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
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 thr...
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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...
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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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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 commerc...
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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 v...
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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 provi...
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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 ...
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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
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...
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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
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...
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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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Feb
01

The Impact of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act on Inpatient Admissions

 The 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) sought to improve access to mental health and substance use services. The Health Care Cost Institute, Inc. (HCCI) analyzed mental health, substance use, and medical/surgical inpatient per capita spending, utilization, prices, and out-of-pocket payments for individuals younger than age 65 and covered by employer-sponsored health ...
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Sep
05

Changes in Health Care Spending in 2011

A summary of HCCI's 2011 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report.    Download PDF File Here
Sep
01

Spending on Prescriptions in 2011

Findings from HCCI's Health Care Cost and Utilization Report: 2011    Download PDF File Here
Jul
02

Differences in Health Care Spending of Children and Adults 2007-2010

This research brief highlights findings from the Health Care Cost Institute's (HCCI) Children's Health Care Spending Report: 2007—2010.    Download PDF File Here
Jul
01

Trends in Children's Health Care Costs and Utilization

This research brief highlights findings from the Health Care Cost Institute's (HCCI) Children's Health Care Spending Report: 2007—2010. 1 The report tracks changes in expenditure and utilization of health care services for children age 18 and younger, who were covered by employer-sponsored private health insurance (ESI).   Download PDF File Here