Monday, May 21, 2012

What Could Revolutionize Health Care? This Database.

Kliff, Sarah. "What Could Revolutionize Health Care? This Database." The Washington Post, May 21, 2012.

From the article: "This morning a new nonprofit called the Health Care Cost Institute will roll out a database of 5 billion health insurance claims (all stripped of the individual health plan’s identity, to address privacy concerns). Researchers will be able to access that data, largely using it to probe a critical question: What makes health care so expensive? The Health Care Cost Institute database is massive. With data voluntarily supplied by Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealth and Kaiser Permanente, it covers 33 million Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance. In order to store just one of those insurers’ data in paper form, you would need 60 million four-foot filing cabinets. …Now that all the data is in one place, researchers can start to tackle questions like: Where is health care expensive? Are certain procedures driving up prices? Is health care becoming more costly because of higher prices or volume? HCCI’s own economists have tackled that last question, in a report out today, the first to use the new database. It finds that higher prices charged by hospitals and other prices have driven health care cost growth during the recession, rather than Americans using more medicine. Medical prices grew three times faster than the Consumer Price Index, a measure of price inflation, between 2009 and 2010. This confirms similar trends seen in the National Health Expenditures report as well as in Medicare data, both of which show people using less health care as the economy slowed." Read more

See also
Health Care Cost and Utilization Report, a report prepared by the Health Care Cost Institute,
May 2012.