Publications
The latest content from HCCI

HCCI’s original reports and external researcher publications powered by #HCCIdata

Jan
16

CMS-specified shoppable services accounted for 12% of 2017 health care spending among inidividuals with employer-sponsored insurance

​ ​% Total Medical Spending ​% Out-of-Pocket Medical Spending ​​% Medical Charges​% Medical  Utilization ​All Medical Care ​11.8 ​15.6 ​12.3​17.2​Inpatient Care​7.95.6​8.0​4.8​Outpatient Care​13.1​16.5​13.7​17.2 In response to high and growing health care spending, policymakers have proposed improving price transparency as a solution. Several such proposals rely on consumers taking ...
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Dec
17

International comparisons of health care prices from the 2017 iFHP survey

The International Federation of Health Plans (iFHP), a CEO network of the global health insurance industry based in London, in partnership with the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) in the United States, and iFHP member companies in eight countries, today published the latest International Comparison of Health Prices Report. The report compares the median prices paid by a sample of private he...
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Nov
25

Comparing Post-Acute Care Use and First Site of Care Among Medicare Advantage Enrollees and Medicare Fee-for-Service Beneficiaries

Using data from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), we examined trends in inpatient hospital admissions and post-acute care (PAC) utilization among Medicare Advantage (MA) and Fee-for-Service (FFS) beneficiaries. Specifically, we compared how frequently individuals in each group were discharged from the hospital, whether they had evidence o...
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Nov
25

Health Services Research: Comparing Different Methods of Indexing Commercial Health Care Prices

​The methodology for HCCI's Healthy Marketplace Index was published in a Methods Brief for Health Services Research.AbstractObjective: To compare different methods of indexing health care service prices for the commercially insured population across geographic markets.Data Sources: Health Care Cost Institute commercial claims data from 2012 to 2016.Study Design: We compare price ind...
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Nov
21

How common is out-of-network billing?

Congress is considering legislation to address "surprise bills", which occur when a person visits an in-network facility, but receives services from a provider that is outside of their insurer's network. Bills in both the House and Senate include provisions to determine a benchmark rate for out-of-network payments based on what in-network providers of the same specialty are paid for delivering sim...
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Nov
12

Health Affairs: Stop Blaming The Victim: The Case For Systemic Health System Transparency

In HCCI's publication in Health Affairs Blog, we examine the case for systemic health system transparency and directing changes towards key stakeholders.  From the article:"Health care costs strain the budgets of families, businesses, and governments, leaving less room for other spending and forcing painful tradeoffs. In 2017, the United States spent $3.5 trillion on health care - &...
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Nov
07

Air Ambulances – 10 Year Trends in Costs and Use

Air ambulances are either fixed wing (airplane) or rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft used to transport people in often time-sensitive medical situations. Air ambulances have become a frequent topic in the news due to their high cost and propensity to lead to surprise bills. Our analysis shows that although air ambulances are not frequently used and their use declined over the 2008 to 2017 period, ...
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Nov
05

Comparing Average Rates for Select Anesthesiology, Emergency Medicine, and Radiology Services by Local Areas

When a person unknowingly receives health care services from a provider that is outside of their insurer's network, it gives rise to the potential for a "surprise bill". Congress continues to consider legislation aimed at reducing the financial burden of "surprise bills" for patients. The approach approved by committees in both the House and Senate is to set a benchmark for the amount that can be ...
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Oct
30

Antidepressant Use Increased for Individuals with a Mood Disorder with Employer-Sponsored Insurance

Depression is a common mood disorder that affects how people feel, think, and conduct daily activities. Approximately 17 million adults (1 in 14) had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. Surveys have found that antidepressant prescribing has increased over the past two decades. For example, a 2017 National Center for Health Statistics survey found that, among people age 12 and ...
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Sep
12

Insulin Use Explains Variation in Level, but not Growth, of Out-of-Pocket Spending on Insulin Products

We previously published two blogs discussing trends in out-of-pocket spending on insulin products. First, we presented data illustrating how average monthly out-of-pocket spending in 2017 varied considerably by month, particularly for individuals enrolled in consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) that carry higher deductibles. Second, we examined the relationship between increasing point-of-sale p...
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Sep
12

Rising Point-of-Sale Prices for Insulin Correspond with Higher Out-of-Pocket Spending on Insulin in January

Earlier this week we presented data on out-of-pocket spending on insulin during each month in 2017. In that blog, we showed that enrollees in employer-sponsored health insurance paid more out-of-pocket for insulin products at the beginning of the calendar year. We examined the relationship between increasing point-of-sale prices for insulin and higher out-of-pocket spending in January for a subset...
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Sep
10

Out-of-Pocket Spending on Insulin is Highest at the Beginning of the Year

People who get health insurance through their jobs pay more than twice as much for insulin at the beginning of the year than they do at the end of the year, on average. New analysis of HCCI data shows that, nationally, in January 2017, average out-of-pocket spending on insulin was $105. This spending declined every month throughout the calendar year, likely as enrollees met their annual deductible...
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Jul
31

State Variation in Opioid Prescribing over 10 Years

Changes in opioid utilization correlated with state-level policy changes aimed at decreasing opioid prescription rates. Previous research by HCCI illustrated that national opioid utilization in pills per person fell 27% between the years of 2008 and 2017, driven by declines in the use of hydrocodone (Vicodin). In addition to giving insight into prescription opioid utilization by the commercially i...
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Jul
29

Health Care Spending in New York Growing Faster Than Rest of U.S.

Spending per person in employer-sponsored plans reaches all-time high of $6,335 Health care spending for the average New Yorker with employer-sponsored health insurance is increasing faster in New York State than the rest of the country, according to a new analysis released today by the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) and the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI).Per-person spending grew ...
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Jul
23

Comparing Commercial and Medicare Rates for Select Anesthesia, Emergency Room, and Radiology Services by State

Committees in both the House and Senate have advanced legislation that includes measures to address "surprise bills." A surprise bill results when a person unknowingly receives medical care from a provider that is not part of their insurer's network. Both pieces of legislation set a benchmark for out-of-network payments. Those benchmarks are determined based on the median in-network amount paid by...
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Jul
15

Opioid Prescriptions Declined 32% for the Commercially Insured over 10 Years (2008 to 2017)

Among people who get health insurance from their employers (56% of the population in 2017), prescription opioid use peaked in 2010/2011 and declined every year from 2012 to 2017. In a new study using the Health Care Cost Institute's commercial claims data from 2008 to 2017, we observed a decline regardless of how utilization was measured. We also found that utilization trends were driven by three ...
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May
15

Examining the adoption of a new Medicare billing code for cognitive assessments: a slow but steady uptake

 On January 1, 2017, the Medicare program started reimbursing providers for a new procedure code for clinical visits for cognitive assessments and care planning services (CPT code G0505). This newly-billable service is intended to improve the care of patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias and hopefully increase early detection and diagnosis. A G0505 visit includes a complete ...
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May
02

Lower Health Care Spending and Use for People with Chronic Conditions in Consumer-Directed Health Plans

To better understand differences in spending and use across types of health plans, we examine individuals enrolled in consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) and individuals enrolled in non-CDHP health plans. CDHPs are a type of HDHP that typically include a health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). We analyzed a sample of over 10 million individuals under the age of...
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Apr
30

Past the Price Index: Exploring Actual Prices Paid for Specific Services by Metro Area

As policymakers, employers, and patients increasingly struggle with rising health care costs, there is a lack of clarity around the actual price of health care services and why those prices are so different. Recent efforts have focused on greater price transparency as a way to impact growing prices. A range of proposals from both Congress and the White House seek to shed more light on the confusin...
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Apr
02

Shifting Care from Office to Outpatient Settings: Services are Increasingly Performed in Outpatient Settings with Higher Prices

Where people receive health care matters, especially in terms of costs. The same services may have a much higher price tag when performed in one setting rather than another, but this price difference is rarely publicized to patients. To understand what settings people used and how prices differed, we looked at the utilization and average price paid from 2009 to 2017 for a set of services commonly ...
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Apr
01

Health Care Spending and Utilization in Public and Private Medicare

Abstract:We compare health care spending in public and private Medicare using newly available claims data from Medicare Advantage (MA) insurers. MA insurer revenues are 30 percent higher than their health care spending. Adjusting for enrollee mix, health care spending per enrollee in MA is 9 to 30 percent lower than in Traditional Medicare (TM), depending on the way we define "comparable" enrollee...
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Mar
28

Surprise out-of-network medical bills during in-network hospital admissions varied by state and medical specialty, 2016

 Out-of-network billing practices have increasingly garnered attention as individuals with commercial health insurance continue to experience "surprise billing." A surprise medical bill commonly describes a charge to a patient for care delivered by an out-of-network (OON) professional who works within an in-network facility. We used the Health Care Cost Institute's (HCCI) vast commercial...
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Feb
27

BMC Public Health: Area-Level Deprivation and Preterm Birth: Results from a National, Commercially-Insured Population

AbstractBackground: Area-level deprivation is associated with multiple adverse birth outcomes. Few studies have examined the mediating pathways through which area-level deprivation affects these outcomes. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between area-level deprivation and preterm birth, and examine the mediating effects of maternal medical, behavioural, and psych...
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Feb
04

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

ABSTRACTWe 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-fo...
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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 heal...
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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 insurer...
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Jan
21

Spending on Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes and the Role of Rapidly Increasing Insulin Prices

We used health care claims data to investigate trends in total health care spending on individuals with type 1 diabetes between 2012 and 2016. We found a rapid increase in total health care spending, driven primarily by gross spending on insulin that doubled over the period. During that time insulin use rose only modestly. While the composition of insulins used shifted, the price of all types of i...
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Jan
01

Medical Care: Competition in Outpatient Procedure Markets

 AbstractBackground: More than half of all medical procedures performed in the United States occur in an outpatient setting, yet few studies have explored how competition among ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and hospitals affects prices for commercially insured outpatient services.Objectives: We examined the association between prices for commercially insured outpatient procedure...
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Dec
13

American Academy of Pediatrics: Insurance Mandates and Out-of-Pocket Spending for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

ABSTRACT  BACKGROUND: The health care costs associated with treating autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children can be substantial. State-level mandates that require insurers to cover ASD-specific services may lessen the financial burden families face by shifting health care spending to insurers.METHODS: We estimated the effects of ASD mandates on out-of-pocket spending, insurer spending...
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Nov
15

Trends In Primary Care Visits

Office visits to primary care physicians (PCPs) declined 18 percent from 2012 to 2016 for adults under 65 years old with employer-sponsored health insurance, while office visits to nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) increased 129 percent.Comparing 2012 to 2016, there were 273 fewer office visits per 1,000 insured individuals to primary care physicians over that span, while vi...
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Nov
01

American Academy of Actuaries: Estimating the Potential Health Care Savings of Reference Pricing

Executive Summary:High and rising health care prices play a major role in the persistent increases in health care spending. This study, undertaken by the American Academy of Actuaries Health Practice Council, explores the potential for reference pricing to counter high health care prices and contain health care spending growth. Reference pricing is a system in which an insurer selects a price it i...
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Nov
01

International Journal of Radiation Oncology: Impact of Medicare Advantage Enrollment on Utilization of Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy and Cost of Care for Cancer Treatment

Abstract:Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is an important driver of rising costs in oncology care, but the level of evidence supporting its routine use varies across disease sites, including breast, lung, and prostate. While Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have incentives to reduce health care spending, the effect of MA enrollment on utilization of high-cost medical services and quality ...
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Oct
24

Understanding how price growth affected areas differently across the country

Recently, the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) published its Healthy Marketplace Index (HMI) – Price Index report, examining relative health care prices in 112 different metropolitan areas. This report is the first in a new series of releases from the HMI project, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which compares commercial health care markets across the country. We found widespread va...
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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 offic...
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Sep
19

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

ABSTRACTUsing 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 i...
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Sep
14

American Journal of Health Economics: Why Don't Commercial Health Plans Use Prospective Payment?

Abstract:One of the key terms in contracts between hospitals and insurers is how the parties apportion the financial risk of treating unexpectedly costly patients. "Prospective" payment contracts give hospitals a lump-sum amount, depending on the medical condition of the patient, with limited adjustment for the level of services provided. We use data from the Medicare Prospective Payment System an...
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Sep
11

Journal of General Internal Medicine: First Opioid Prescription and Subsequent High-Risk Opiod Use, a National Survey of Privately Insured and Medicare Advantage Adults

​BACKGROUND: National guidelines make recommendations regarding the initial opioid prescriptions, but most of the supporting evidence is from the initial episode of care, not the first prescription.OBJECTIVE: To examine associations between features of the first opioid prescription and high-risk opioid use in the 18 months following the first prescription.DESIGN: Retrospec...
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Sep
11

ER facility prices grew in tandem with faster-growing charges from 2009-2016

HCCI often reports the prices of health care services, defined as the average amount a provider is paid for a given service based on negotiations with health care insurers. These prices typically represent a portion of charges, which are the amounts health care providers bill for the procedures they perform. The charge amount is often the starting point for negotiations between insurers and provid...
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Sep
04

The Quarterly Journal of Economics: The Price Ain't Right? Hospital Prices and Health Spending on the Privately Insured

​Abstract: We use insurance claims data covering 28% of individuals with employer-sponsored health insurance in the United States 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 a...
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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 pred...
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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?

ABSTRACTThe 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 inf...
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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

 ABSTRACTObjective: 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 instrumen...
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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

ABSTRACTBackground: 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 implicatio...
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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.     Download PDF File Here
Mar
01

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

ABSTRACTObjectives: 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 fo...
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