News
Media coverage of HCCI’s original research

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Sep
01

The Society of Actuaries: Predicting High-Cost Members in the HCCI Database

Abstract: Using the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) database, which contains claim information on approximately 47 million members annually over a seven-year time period, we examined which characteristics best predict and describe high-cost members. We found that cost history, age, gender and prescription drug coverage are all predictors of future high costs, with cost history being the most pre...
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Jun
25

Medical Care Research and Review: Prices for Physicians’ Services in Medicare Advantage and Commercial Plans

ABSTRACT: The prices that insurers pay physicians ultimately affect beneficiaries' health insurance premiums. Using 2014 claims data from three major insurers, we analyzed the prices insurers paid in their Medicare Advantage (MA) and commercial plans for 20 physician services, in and out of network, and compared those prices with estimated amounts that Medicare's fee-for-service (FFS) program...
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Jun
11

INQUIRY The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing: How do the Hospital Prices Paid by Medicare Advantage Plans and Commercial Plans Compare with Medicare Fee-for-Service Prices?

ABSTRACT The prices that private insurers pay hospitals have received considerable attention in recent years, but most of that literature has focused on the commercially insured population. Although nearly one-third of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, little is known about the prices paid to hospitals by the private insurers that administer such plans. More in...
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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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May
23

Health Services Research: Physical Therapy as the First Point of Care to Treat Low Back Pain: An Instrumental Variables Approach to Estimate Impact on Opioid Prescription, Health Care Utilization, and Costs

 ABSTRACT Objective: To compare differences in opioid prescription, health care utilization, and costs among patients with low back pain (LBP) who saw a physical therapist (PT) at the first point of care, at any time during the episode or not at all. Data Sources: Commercial health insurance claims data, 2009–2013. Study Design: Retrospective analyses using two‐stage residual inclusion instru...
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May
01

NBER: The Price Ain't Right? Hospital Prices and Health Spending on the Privately Insured

ABSTRACT: We use insurance claims data covering 28 percent of individuals with employer-sponsored health insurance in the US to study the variation in health spending on the privately insured, examine the structure of insurer-hospital contracts, and analyze the variation in hospital prices across the nation. Health spending per privately insured beneficiary differs by a factor of three across...
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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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Apr
01

American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology: Nationwide trends in the utilization of and payments for hysterectomy in the United States among commercially insured women

ABSTRACT Background: Laparotomy followed by inpatient hospitalization has traditionally been the most common surgical care for hysterectomy. The financial implications of the increased use of laparoscopy and outpatient hysterectomy are unknown. Objectives: The objective of the study was to quantify the increasing use of laparoscopy and outpatient hysterectomy and to describe the financial implicat...
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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.   Excel Data Tables Machine-Readable Data   D...
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Mar
01

Medical Care: The Differential Effects of Insurance Mandates on Health Care Spending for Children’s Autism Spectrum Disorder

ABSTRACT Objectives: There is substantial variation in treatment intensity among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study asks whether policies that target health care utilization for ASD affect children differentially based on this variation. Specifically, we examine the impact of state-level insurance mandates that require commercial insurers to cover certain treatments for ASD f...
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Mar
01

Obstetrics & Gynecology: Rate of Pelvic Organ Prolapse Surgery Among Privately Insured Women in the United States, 2010-2013

Abstract OBJECTIVE: To analyze utilization of, and payments for, pelvic organ prolapse procedures after the 2011 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) communication regarding transvaginal mesh. METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study examining private claims from three insurance providers for inpatient and outpatient prolapse procedures from 2010 to 2013 in the Health Care Cost Institute. ...
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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
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 ...
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Feb
01

NBER: Hospital Pricing and Public Payments

ABSTRACT: A longstanding debate in health economics and health policy concerns how hospitals adjust prices with private insurers following reductions in public funding. A common argument is that hospitals engage in some degree of "cost-shifting," wherein hospitals increase prices with private insurers in response to a reduction in public payments; however, evidence of significant costshifting...
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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 a...
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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 pri...
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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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Dec
01

Health Affairs: Rising Use Of Observation Care Among The Commercially Insured May Lead to Total And Out-Of-Pocket Cost Savings

ABSTRACT:  Proponents of hospital-based observation care argue that it has the potential to reduce health care spending and lengths-of-stay, compared to short-stay inpatient hospitalizations. However, critics have raised concerns about the out-of-pocket spending associated with observation care. Recent reports of high out-of-pocket spending among Medicare beneficiaries have received cons...
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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 med...
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Oct
01

Health Affairs: Effects Of State Insurance Mandates On Health Care Use And Spending For Autism Spectrum Disorder

ABSTRACT: Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have enacted insurance mandates that require commercial insurers to cover treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examined whether implementing autism mandates altered service use or spending among commercially insured children with ASD. We compared children age twenty-one or younger who were eligible for m...
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Oct
01

JAMA Oncology: Association Between Quality of Care for Breast Cancer and Health Insurance Exchange Coverage An Analysis of Use of Radiation Therapy After Breast-Conserving Surgery

ABSTRACT Research comparing quality of cancer care by insurance categories concluded that cancer patients without insurance or with Medicaid experienced inferior quality of care compared with those with private insurance. A new insurance category created from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is insurance purchased from the Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as the exchange). The present st...
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