News
The latest news from HCCI

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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...
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Nov
19

Health Affairs: Private Equity and Powerful Physician Groups Raise Another Distraction

HCCI data on market concentration was mentioned in a Health Affairs blog post. From the article: "Before we even get into the merits and effects of Congress' fix for surprise billing, it's worth noting that the status quo is bad for networks. Most markets—particularly in urban areas—are highly concentrated, giving providers such as hospitals and specialists a great deal of market power. The Health...
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Aug
12

Health Affairs: Surprise Billing: Choose Patients Over Profit

 HCCI's research on median in-network rates was recently featured in a Health Affairs blog post on surprise billing. From the blog: "Most importantly, Congress should establish a locally based benchmark to determine the amount an insurer would be required to pay a provider for a surprise bill. Ideally, we'd set the benchmark at some multiple (for example 125 percent) of what Medicare pays to ...
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Feb
04

Health Affairs: Variation In Health Spending Growth For The Privately Insured From 2007 to 2014

ABSTRACT We examined the growth in health spending on people with employer-sponsored private insurance in the period 2007–14. Our analysis relied on information from the Health Care Cost Institute data set, which includes insurance claims from Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare. In the study period private health spending per enrollee grew 16.9 percent, while growth in Medicare spending per fee-f...
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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 hea...
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Feb
04

Health Affairs: Hospital Prices Grew Substantially Faster Than Physician Prices For Hospital-Based Care In 2007–14

Abstract: Evidence suggests that growth in providers' prices drives growth in health care spending on the privately insured. However, existing work has not systematically differentiated between the growth rate of hospital prices and that of physician prices. We analyzed growth in both types of prices for inpatient and hospital-based outpatient services using actual negotiated prices paid by insure...
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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 offi...
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Sep
19

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

ABSTRACT Using 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 ...
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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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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
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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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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Sep
01

Health Affairs: Insurer Market Power Lowers Prices In Numerous Concentrated Provider Markets

 ABSTRACT: Using prices of hospital admissions and visits to five types of physicians, we analyzed how provider and insurer market concentration—as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI)—interact and are correlated with prices. We found evidence that in the range of the Department of Justice's and Federal Trade Commission's definition of a moderately concentrated market (HHI of...
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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 administrat...
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Mar
01

Health Affairs: Reference Pricing Changes the 'Choice Architecture' of Health Care for Consumers

ABSTRACT: Reference pricing in health insurance creates incentives for patients to select for nonemergency services providers that charge relatively low prices and still offer high quality of care. It changes the "choice architecture" by offering standard coverage if the patient chooses cost-effective providers but requires considerable consumer cost sharing if more expensive alternatives are sele...
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Aug
01

Health Affairs: Medicare Advantage Plans Pay Hospitals Less Than Traditional Medicare Pays

ABSTRACT There is ongoing debate about how prices paid to providers by Medicare Advantage plans compare to prices paid by fee-for-service Medicare. We used data from Medicare and the Health Care Cost Institute to identify the prices paid for hospital services by fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, and commercial insurers in 2009 and 2012. We calculated the average price per a...
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Aug
01

Health Affairs: Health Spending Slowdown Is Mostly Due To Economic Factors, Not Structural Change In The Health Care Sector

ABSTRACT: The source of the recent slowdown in health spending growth remains unclear. We used new and unique data on privately insured people to estimate the effect of the economic slowdown that began in December 2007 on the rate of growth in health spending. By exploiting regional variations in the severity of the slowdown, we determined that the economic slowdown explained approximately 70...
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Oct
01

Health Affairs: Trends Underlying Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Growth For Americans Younger Than Age Sixty-Five

ABSTRACT Little is known about the trends in health care spending for the 156 million Americans who are younger than age sixty-five and enrolled in employer-sponsored health insurance. Using a new source of health insurance claims data, we estimated per capita spending, utilization, and prices for this population between 2007 and 2011. During this period per capita spending on employer-sponsored i...
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