Health Care Costs Continue to Vary in State-by-State Comparison

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NRHI and HealthInsight resport shows Oregon trends above average while Utah remains below average

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Variation of the total cost of health care in six states, including Oregon and Utah, continues to be driven by local patterns of health care usage and pricing. These regional differences are explained in a report released today by the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI), a national nonprofit representing regional health improvement collaboratives (RHICs) and state partners working to achieve better health, and high-quality affordable care.

As a participant and partner in this work, HealthInsight contributes data about the cost of care in Oregon and Utah for national benchmarking, allowing for comparisons of the total cost of care in different regions around the country.

HealthInsight Oregon, one of the original RHICs participating in the project, has been sharing information with providers, payers and policymakers for several years. HealthInsight Oregon is frequently called upon to present the total cost of care data to help inform policy.
Like previous findings specific to Oregon, high prices continue to drive the total cost of care in Oregon. Those high prices are largely offset by lower than average utilization.

With one of the nation’s highest birth rates per capita, Utah uses inpatient (hospital) services a lot more than the comparison states. The good news is that Utah’s inpatient prices are relatively low compared to other states.

“HealthInsight is often called upon as having local expertise across our communities in Oregon and Utah and for offering a tried and true methodology to understand the cost of care,” stated Meredith Roberts Tomasi, HealthInsight Oregon Associate Executive Director.

This is NRHI’s third annual report comparing the total cost of care for those with private insurance in various U.S. regions. The report uses the average cost of health care for comparable populations as its benchmark and compares each state to that average. Like other recent studies highlighted in national media, the report finds that health care costs vary widely between states. The NRHI report goes further to explore why costs differ and reveals how varied care delivery patterns and local prices contribute to the cost differences between Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, St. Louis, and Utah. With three national total cost of care benchmark reports complete, trends are emerging, and statistics show that each state has a different story to tell.

“The way we receive health care in the United States is broken, and as a result Americans are paying too much and are less healthy than other developed nations,” said Ellen Gagnon, Executive Director of Healthcare Affordability, NRHI. “There are ways we can work together to change the system, but we need trusted data to focus our collective efforts and measure our shared success.”

NRHI has collaborated with 18 members on its Total Cost of Care initiative since November 2013. The national comparison detailed in this report is supported by practice-level reporting that each member does in its region. Oregon and Utah also participated in the 2014 and 2015 benchmark study released by NRHI in 2017 and earlier in 2018. With the publication of this report, NRHI now has three sets of regional cost comparisons. Learn more about NRHI’s Getting to Affordability project.

This report was developed with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report can be found at: http://www.nrhi.org/work/multi-region-innovation-pilots/tcoc/

About HealthInsight
HealthInsight is a regional health improvement collaborative that oversees affiliated 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporations in Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah, and End Stage Renal Disease Networks across the western United States. HealthInsight holds contracts and grants in key areas of health care improvement, including leading quality improvement activities for the Medicare program as the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) for the four-state region. HealthInsight has experience assisting front-line providers and engaging health care stakeholders to improve health care and outcomes. Its programs focus on transparency and public reporting; effective use of health information technology; engaging patients and communities to improve their health; and redesigning how care is paid for and delivered.

In April 2018, HealthInsight and Qualis Health announced a formal merger, combining the two organizations and their operations across the U.S. Both Qualis Health and HealthInsight have been engaged in health care quality consulting and providing quality improvement services for more than 40 years.

About NRHI
The Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) is a national membership organization of regional health improvement collaboratives (RHICs) and partners representing more than 30 states and territories across the U.S. Our members work in and across their regions to collaborate and transform health care with the goal of achieving better health, and high-quality affordable care.

About Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 45 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working alongside others to build a national Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. For more information, visit http://www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at http://www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at http://www.rwjf.org/facebook.

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