News
Media coverage of HCCI’s original research

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Jun
09

One-Third of Births Occurred by C-Section in ESI and Medicaid in 2020

Caesarean sections (c-sections) are often life-saving procedures that can prevent injury and death among birthing people and newborns. At the same time, when they are not medically necessary, c-sections may have higher risks to babies and birthing people than vaginal births. Monitoring rates of c-sections among birthing people is an important component of efforts to improve the quality of mat...
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Jun
09

Average Payments for Childbirth Among the Commercially Insured and Fee-for-Service Medicaid

It is well-established that the rates hospitals and physicians are paid to provide health care services are significantly lower in Medicaid than in private health insurance. In this brief, we provide new data on this payment gap in the context of childbirth, an especially relevant area of care since Medicaid and ESI together cover the vast majority of births in the United States. We used HCCI's un...
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Jun
08

Effects of COVID-19 on Health Care Spending Were Concentrated in April-May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic shaped health care spending and use over the past two years in numerous ways. We recently released our Health Care Cost and Utilization Report which provides data from the first year of the pandemic on health care use, spending, and prices across different types of services for approximately 55 million individuals enrolled in employer-sponsored health insurance. In the report...
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May
10

The Price of Childbirth in the U.S. Tops $13,000 in 2020

As HCCI has previously documented, the price of childbirth in the U.S. is higher than in many other countries. When prices are high, patients with health insurance pay directly through coinsurance (i.e., cost-sharing calculated as a percent of what their insurer pays for the service) and over time, as higher prices charged to insurers are passed along to individuals through higher premiums. We exa...
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May
10

Birthing People in the U.S. Pay Nearly $2,000 Out-of-Pocket to Have a Baby

The birth of a child is momentous for any person and family. New parents may face a range of challenges, including a lack of paid family leave, the rising costs of childcare, and potential health-related complications for the birthing person and new baby. In the midst of this major life transition, parents also face new financial burdens. A major cost – even among those with health insurance – is ...
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May
10

As COVID-19 Hit, Birthing People Spent Less Time in the Hospital for Delivery

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Americans in a myriad of ways, including their use of the health care system for both COVID- and non-COVID related services. In this brief, we explore the ways in which the first year of the pandemic affected people for one of the most common hospital services – childbirth. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, more than 3.6 million babies were born in the Uni...
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Apr
28

COVID Tests Cost $0 for Most People in 2020

COVID-19 testing has become a regular part of life for many Americans over the last two years. In addition to facilitating individual returns to work, school, and other activities, testing is a crucial component of the public health strategy to monitor and address the spread of the virus. Even as testing becomes more available, there is widespread concern and frustration about the high and variabl...
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Feb
28

JAMA: Variability in Prices Paid for Hemodialysis by Employer-Sponsored Insurance in the US From 2012 to 2019

Abstract: Recent proposals have sought to limit the amount dialysis clinics charge private payers, but little is known about the prices that private insurers actually pay for dialysis. In this study, we provide novel evidence on dialysis prices based on claims data for a large national sample of private employer-sponsored insurance carriers.
Feb
28

NBER: Do Higher-Priced Hospitals Deliver Higher-Quality Care?

Abstract:  We analyze whether receiving care from higher-priced hospitals leads to lower mortality. We overcome selection issues by using an instrumental variable approach which exploits that ambulance companies are quasi-randomly assigned to transport patients and have strong preferences for certain hospitals. Being admitted to a hospital with two standard deviations higher prices raises spe...
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Feb
28

JAMA Internal Medicine: Association of Physician Management Companies and Private Equity Investment With Commercial Health Care Prices Paid to Anesthesia Practitioners

ABSTRACT Importance Physician management companies (PMCs), often backed by private equity (PE), are increasingly providing staffing and management services to health care facilities, yet little is known of their influence on prices. Objective To study changes in prices paid to practitioners (anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists) before and after an outpatient facility cont...
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Feb
14

Love is Expensive; So is a Trip to the Emergency Room

Valentine's Day – known for romantic candlelit dinners, lavish jewelry, and red roses – is pricey. Indeed, the National Retail Federation's Annual Valentine's Day Spending Survey suggests that an individual spends an average of $175 on these gifts each year. However, data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that the cost of love may be even greater, as more than 300 emergency room vi...
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Jan
21

CBO: The Prices That Commercial Health Insurers and Medicare Pay for Hospitals’ and Physicians’ Services

Abstract: CBO examined potential reasons that the prices paid by commercial health insurers for hospitals' and physicians' services are higher, rise more quickly, and vary more by area than the prices paid by the Medicare fee-for-service program.
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Dec
17

Assessing the Long-Term Viability of Data Platforms for Research

Health care in the United States is notoriously fragmented. A patient may receive care from a variety of health systems, physicians, and other providers, and that care may or may not be recorded in a patchwork of administrative claims data systems and electronic health record (EHR) systems. At the same time, health data has become an increasingly valuable commodity. Billions of health data points ...
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Nov
19

Ouch!: New Data reveals ER spending increased by 51% from 2012 – 2019, with patient out of pocket payments increasing by 85%

Introduction Excessive emergency room (ER) spending and utilization have long been major areas of focus for health care stakeholders. The ER is an important source of health care for many individuals, especially those who lack a usual source of care, or those with work schedules that limit the ability to access care during "normal business hours." But an ER visit can be extremely expensive, and pa...
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Oct
15

Capping Out-of-Pocket Spending on Insulin would Lower Costs for a Substantial Proportion of Commercially Insured Individuals

Previous HCCI analysis documented rapid growth in insulin spending over the 2012-17 period. High out-of-pocket spending may deter adherence to insulin among individuals with diabetes, with potentially fatal effects. In this blog, we update our analysis of out-of-pocket insulin spending to 2019 using HCCI's unique commercial claims dataset, which includes prescription drug claims for 29 millio...
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Sep
08

Health Affairs: Regulating Hospital Prices Based On Market Concentration Is Likely To Leave High-Price Hospitals Unaffected

Abstract Concern about high hospital prices for commercially insured patients has motivated several proposals to regulate these prices. Such proposals often limit regulations to highly concentrated hospital markets. Using a large sample of 2017 US commercial insurance claims, we demonstrate that under the market definition commonly used in these proposals, most high-price hospitals are in markets ...
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Aug
17

JAMA Internal Medicine: Association of Surprise-Billing Legislation with Prices Paid to In-Network and Out-of-Network Anesthesiologists in California, Florida, and New York: An Economic Analysis

Question  What is the association of state surprise-billing legislation with prices paid to anesthesiologists in hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory surgery centers? Findings  This retrospective economic analysis of more than 2.5 million claims filed for patients with private health insurance who received anesthesia services in hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory su...
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Aug
03

JAMA: Differences in Cancer Care Expenditures and Utilization for Surgery by Hospital Type Among Patients With Private Insurance

Question Are there differences in insurer spending and care utilization for patients with private insurance undergoing cancer surgery at National Cancer Institute (NCI) centers vs community hospitals? Findings In this cross-sectional study of 66 878 patients with breast, colon, or lung cancer, surgery at NCI centers, compared with community hospitals, was associated with higher insurer prices paid...
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Aug
01

Annals of Surgery: Opioid Fills in Children Undergoing Surgery From 2011 to 2014: A Retrospective Analysis of Relationships Among Age, Initial Days Supplied, and Refills

 Abstract Objective: The primary objective is to describe the relationship between the days supplied of postsurgical filled opioid prescriptions and refills. Background: The American College of Surgeons (ACS) has called for surgeons to alter opioid prescribing to counteract the opioid epidemic while simultaneously providing pain relief. However, there is insufficient evidence to inform periop...
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Jul
04

AJPM: Robust Prescription Monitoring Programs and Abrupt Discontinuation of Long-term Opioid Use

 Introduction This study assesses the associations between the recent implementation of robust features of state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and the abrupt discontinuation of long-term opioid therapies. Methods Data were from a national commercial insurance database and included privately insured adults aged 18–64 years and Medicare Advantage enrollees aged ≥65 years who initiated a...
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Jun
24

AJMC: Commercial and Medicare Advantage Payment for Anesthesiology Services

 ABSTRACT Objectives: Anesthesiology services are a focal point of policy making to address surprise medical billing. However, allowed amounts and charges for anesthesiology services have been understudied due to the specialty's unique conversion factor (CF) unit of payment and complex provider structures involving anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). This st...
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Jun
15

AJMC: Association Between Hospital-Insurer Contract Structure and Hospital Performance

ABSTRACT Objectives: To describe the association between the form of hospitals' contracts—either markup from a benchmark or a discount from a list price—and performance: price, charge, cost, and length of stay. Study Design: Retrospective observational study using administrative claims data matched with hospital characteristics from the American Hospital Association Annual Survey and the Healthcar...
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Jun
14

JAMA Network: Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Mandates and Opioids Dispensed Following Emergency Department Encounters for Patients With Sickle Cell Disease or Cancer With Bone Metastasis

Abstract: Patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) or cancer with bone metastasis often present to the emergency department (ED) for treatment of severe pain, and opioid analgesics remain first-line therapies for acute pain in the ED or after discharge. Policies aimed at improving the safety of opioid prescribing, such as state legislative mandates that prescribers register with or u...
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Jun
11

Real World Consequences of the Qualifying Payment Amount in the No Surprises Act

The United States Congress passed the No Surprises Act last year, offering several protections to consumers. Beginning in 2022, providers can no longer bill patients for more than their insurance's in-network cost sharing. The law also bans balance billing except in situations where a patient is notified in advance and their written consent is obtained. Independent dispute resolution between insur...
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May
28

JAMA Health Forum: Comparison of Anticancer Medication Use and Spending Under US Oncology Parity Laws With and Without Out-of-Pocket Spending Caps

Abstract:  IMPORTANCE  By 2020, nearly all states had adopted oncology parity laws in the US, ensuring that patients in fully insured private health plans pay no more for orally administered anticancer medications (OAMs) than infused therapies. Between 2013 and mid-2017, 11 states implemented parity with out-of-pocket spending caps, which may further reduce patient out-of-pocket spending...
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