- The Health Care Cost Institute released six studies showing how insurance policies are impacting healthcare costs and medical utilization.
- Among the findings were provider consolidation drives up cancer treatment costs and expanding access to physical therapy reduces use of high-powered painkillers.
- The independent researchers drew on HCCI’s database of commercial claims data for over 50 million Americans.
Cancer treatment spending rose when outpatient practices consolidated because of the additional facility fees outpatient facilities can charge payers. The researchers also found a link between consolidation and more costly drugs and other outpatient services.
Another study showed states that allow nurse practitioners to treat patients in the absence of a doctor had lower primary care rates — down 1% to 4% versus states that did not. Overall healthcare spending increased, however, possibly due to the general increase in access to care, the researchers said.
Researchers also found that:
- Reimbursing for telehealth services reduces the cost of care by 40%, yet only seven states mandate equal coverage for telehealth and non-telehealth care.
- Passage of mental health parity legislation has not had the impact on access to mental health services that was anticipated; and
- Adopting a reference-based payment model for colonoscopies could save 8.5% per procedure.
The studies were funded by grants from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the National Academy for State Health Policy. HCCI’s repository contains de-identified HIPAA-compliant claims data from three of the nation’s largest payers.