Current and Future Research Projects

HCCI's Health Care Cost and Utilization Reports are just the starting point for many independent research studies focused on health care costs in the United States. The following are some of the studies currently underway, by independent researchers, using the Institute's claims-based data:

HEALTH SPENDING SLOWDOWN AND THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN. This study by Northwestern University researchers, David Dranove, Craig Garthwaite, and Chris Ody, examines the effect of the economic slowdown on health care spending for the privately-insured, working-age population. The study was published in the August 2014 issue of Health Affairs.

Explore the study: Health Spending Slowdown Is Mostly Due To Economic Factors, Not Structural Change in the Health Care Sector

HEALTH CARE COSTS FROM BIRTH TO DEATH. This study examines the impact of age and gender on overall and retiree health costs, Medicare spending, and spending on disease over 2002-2010. The study, by Dale Yamamoto, is supported by the Society of Actuaries.

Explore the report: Health Care Costs from Birth to Death »

TRENDS UNDERLYING EMPLOYER-SPONSORED HEALTH INSURANCE GROWTH. This study, published in the October 2013 issue of Health Affairs, examines the change in health care spending trends during and immediately after the recession for people under age sixty-five and enrolled in employer-sponsored health insurance. The study, by Carolina-Nicole Herrera, Martin Gaynor, David Newman, Stephen T. Parente, and Robert J. Town, was performed using the Health Care Cost Institute’s Aggregated ESI Cost and Utilization Dataset (2007-2011).

Explore the study: Trends Underlying Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Growth for Americans Younger than Age Sixty-Five

DETERMINANTS OF VARIATION IN HOSPITAL PRICING. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (Martin Gaynor) and the London School of Economics (Zack Cooper and John Van Reenen) are studying: 1) variation in hospital pricing and the extent to which more expensive hospitals provide better care, 2) the relative contribution of rising prices to rising hospital spending, 3) the influence of hospital market structure on the prices hospitals charge for care, and 4) whether hospitals cost shift, i.e., raise the prices they charge to private patients as publicly funded patients' reimbursement rates fall. This study will be the first to examine these questions using national data on actual payments.

MEDICAL PRODUCTIVITY INDEX. Stephen T. Parente of the University of Minnesota is investigating whether price or quantity is the greater factor driving costs for the privately insured. Economists have stated for decades that the increase in US health insurance expenditures has been driven by an aging population and new medical technologies. However, there has been little research to show what is driving health care costs at a procedural level. His team is studying (1) whether increases in the reimbursement or quantity delivered per procedure are the leading factors explaining health care cost growth, (2) whether reimbursement and quantity differ between payment models, and (3) whether there are specific technologies or medical conditions where price differences consistently dominate quantity differences, regardless of payment model.

CONSUMER RESPONSES TO COST SHARING. Jon Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues at the National Bureau of Economic Research are conducting a study on insured responses to changes in health insurance cost-sharing requirements. They will be examining how different cost sharing structures impact health care utilization as well as the tradeoffs made by consumers between care and cost.

PROVIDER PRACTICE PATTERNS. A team led by Amy Finkelstein of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is studying the determinants of high spending practice patterns from a new perspective, focusing on the way providers and patients affect health care spending decisions.

DETERMINANTS OF AND VARIATION IN HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS' PRICING. Researchers at Yale University (Zack Cooper), Carnegie Mellon University (Martin Gaynor), and the London School of Economics (John Van Reenen) are studying a number of questions around relationships between health care providers' pricing, spending, and quality of care. This study will be among the first to examine these questions using national, multi-payer claims data.

DIALYSIS MARKET CONSOLIDATION. Leemore Dafny and Christopher Ody of the Kellogg School of Management, together with David Cutler of Harvard University, are investigating the growth and consolidation of the dialysis industry. Although the vast majority of dialysis patients are insured by Medicare, privately-insured dialysis patients generate a disproportionate share of profits. Her team is exploring whether dialysis provider consolidation has led to price increases for privately-insured patients.

Additional studies under review address cost and health information technologies, and whether price or utilization are driving increases in Medicare Advantage costs. Check back here and sign up for research updates to learn about future research studies as they are approved.