News
Media coverage of HCCI’s original research

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Jan
30

The Washington Post: The Health 202: Health-care costs might decline if hospitals are forced by the Trump administration to disclose their prices

HCCI research on the potential effects of price transparency on price variation was cited in a recent Washington Post article."There is more wiggle room on the high side — it could make up for price increases on the lower side," said Kevin Kennedy, one of the study researchers. The Health 202: Health-care costs might decline if hospitals are forced by the Trump administration to disclose thei...
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Jan
29

What if Price Transparency Reduced Commercial Price Variation?

As previous reports have indicated, there is widespread price variation in the U.S. commercial health care system. Many studies have shown that prices are dramatically different not only across geographies, but they vary substantially even within the same market for the same service. For example, we found that prices for the same blood tests could vary 39-fold within Tampa, Florida and the cost of...
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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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Dec
10

JAMA Research Letter: Primary Care Spending in the Commercially Insured Population

​Using HCCI's data, we assessed the share among individuals younger than 65 years covered by employer-sponsored insurance from 2013 to 2017.  We assessed primary care spending using 2 main definitions: a definition which included the total spending on services rendered by primary care clinicians (broad definition) and one where only CPT codes for specific services specified as prima...
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Nov
25

Health Affairs: Surprise Bills, Benchmarks, And The Problem Of Indexation

​HCCI data was cited in a Health Affairs blog article on surprise billing.  From the Article:"Over the past year, the congressional debate over surprise billing has converged on two policy options to resolve out-of-network payments—1) a simple benchmark, in which a health plan pays out-of-network providers the median rate agreed with local in-network providers in the same specialty, or 2...
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Nov
22

Vox: Her son died after insurers resisted covering drug rehab. Now she's taking them to court.

HCCI data was used in an article about the cost of substance use disorder rehab.  From the article:"Insurers do seem to be paying more for addiction care than they used to. According to the Health Care Cost Institute, commercial insurers spent a little more than $17,000 on the average patient with a substance use disorder in 2017, up from nearly $13,500 in 2008. That's likely due in part...
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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
11

HCCI and Blue Health Intelligence® Announce Major New Data Sharing Partnership

Addition of Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies' data will expand nation's leading resource for understanding health care cost trends.  CHICAGO (November 12, 2019) – The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) and Blue Health Intelligence® (BHI®) announced today a multi-year data partnership, significantly expanding HCCI's data resources and bolstering its ability to provide research insights to a...
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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
25

The Wall Street Journal: Cost of Employer-Provided Health Coverage Passes $20,000 a Year

HCCI's 2017 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report was cited in a Wall Street Journal article on the cost of employer-sponsored insurance. From the article: "A major driver of the cost of coverage has been the rising prices that insurers and employers pay for health care, said Niall Brennan, chief executive of the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit. "The vast majority of ...
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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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Feb
04

Health Affairs: Medicare Advantage And Commercial Prices For Mental Health Services

​Abstract:In 2014, insurers paid an average of 13–14 percent less for in-network mental health services in their commercial and Medicare Advantage plans than fee-for-service Medicare paid for identical services—despite paying up to 12 percent more than Medicare when the same services were provided by other physician specialties. However, patients went out of network more frequently for mental heal...
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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
03

Wall Street Journal: Employer-Provided Health Insurance Approaches $20,000 a Year

HCCI's 2016 Annual Report was cited in the WSJ:The HCCI findings are "pretty compelling," said Paul Ginsburg, a professor at the University of Southern California. "Higher prices from providers is the most important element in rising premiums in the past few years."  Employer-Provided Health Insurance Approaches $20,000 a Year - WSJ The average cost of health coverage offered by employers ros...
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Oct
01

Health Affairs: Assessing The Impact Of State Policies For Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs On High-Risk Opioid Prescriptions

 ABSTRACT:Policies and practices have proliferated to optimize prescribers' use of their states' prescription drug monitoring programs, which are statewide databases of controlled substances dispensed at retail pharmacies. Our study assessed the effectiveness of three such policies: comprehensive legislative mandates to use the program, laws that allow prescribers to delegate its use to offic...
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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

Journal of General Internal Medicine: First Opioid Prescription and Subsequent High-Risk Opiod Use, a National Survey of Privately Insured and Medicare Advantage Adults

​BACKGROUND: National guidelines make recommendations regarding the initial opioid prescriptions, but most of the supporting evidence is from the initial episode of care, not the first prescription.OBJECTIVE: To examine associations between features of the first opioid prescription and high-risk opioid use in the 18 months following the first prescription.DESIGN: Retrospec...
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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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