Calling healthcare spending the "single biggest financial issue facing the nation," a group of four national health insurers announced plans Tuesday (PDF) to pool more than 5 billion healthcare claims into a single database that researchers can mine to identify trends in cost, utilization and intensity of care.
Four insurers to pool claims in research database
The Health Care Cost Institute is a not-for-profit research group governed by a six-member board of academic, actuarial and medical professionals who will oversee the database created using data from four insurers: Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealthcare. The database will include government data from Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, and it may eventually include information from other private insurers.
The initial data submitted by the insurers will cover more than $1 trillion in healthcare spending spanning the period from 2000-2011. The database will be updated regularly with fresh information from new claims, according to news releases from the institute.
The institute will release public "score cards" twice a year summarizing national trends in the data, as well as information on a handful of specific geographic regions, though it will not identify specific healthcare providers in any market. The full deidentified data set will not be released publicly, but it will be provided for use by qualified researchers selected by the institute.
Although other databases on healthcare use have been available for years, typically they are based on Medicare claims data, which has limited usefulness because of the demographics of Medicare users and because the government payer pays flat rates for services while private insurers tend to pay widely varying rates.
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