Category Archives: Health data

Incremental progress seen in price transparency, but report may rate A+ among journalists

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Source: Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws — July 2016, Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, Sandy Hook, Conn., and Catalyst for Payment Reform, San Francisco.Here’s how price transparency should work for a woman with a silver-level insurance plan in one state. Assume this consumer could go to any hospital and would choose based on the cost of care, meaning her out-of-pocket costs (deductible plus co-insurance). She could pay $5,079 at the highest-priced facility or $3,531 at the lowest-priced hospital. The difference between the two is $1,548.

Source: Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws — July 2016Here’s how price transparency should work for a woman with a silver-level insurance plan in one state. Assume this consumer could go to any hospital and would choose based on the cost of care, meaning her out-of-pocket costs (deductible plus co-insurance). She could pay $5,079 at the highest-priced facility or $3,531 at the lowest-priced hospital. The difference between the two is $1,548.

Progress toward widespread price transparency comes slowly, according to the latest annual report from the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3) and the Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR). In the “Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws – July 2016,” issued on Tuesday, the authors, Suzanne Delbanco, CPR’s executive director, and François de Brantes, HCI3’s executive director, explained what states are doing to give consumers the information they need to shop for care based on price.

As in past years, most states are doing poorly: 43 states earned an F grade for failing to meet even minimum standards. Last year, 45 states got an F. Continue reading

What quality measures can tell us about nursing home ratings

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: Brian Bullock via Flickr

Photo: Brian Bullock via Flickr

Nursing home star ratings are misleading and disingenuous, according to a recent analysis comparing ratings with quality measures alone. More than a thousand nursing homes nationally with high overall ratings had only one or two stars in quality measures, which could point to some serious health implications for residents. Continue reading

Reports emphasize the dangers of racial disparities in oral health

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Courtesy Elena Rios, M.D., M.S.P.H.

Photo: Courtesy Elena Rios, M.D., M.S.P.H.

Hispanic medical and dental leaders at a recent joint meeting in Washington, D.C., highlighted the urgency of getting more culturally competent health care services to their communities.

A chronic shortage of Spanish-speaking health care providers has contributed to a lack of access to care and widespread health disparities among Hispanics, they stressed. Continue reading

For AHCJ members: Comparison tool for hospital Medicare charges

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the special projects director for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

downloading-and-uploading-data-iconAHCJ just updated its version of Medicare inpatient charge data covering hospitals across the United States.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has updated its data, showing what hospitals charge Medicare for the same treatment or procedure. Government data files include bills submitted by 3,500 hospitals for the 100 most commonly performed inpatient treatments in federal fiscal years 2011 through 2014. This allows a basis for some local or regional comparisons and a starting point for stories on hospital costs and services. Continue reading

What journalists should know about hospital ratings

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

PhotoJoel Dinda via Flickr

Photo: Joel Dinda via Flickr

Journalists should take hospital ratings with a healthy dose of skepticism, according to experts at a recent AHCJ New York chapter event. Simply looking at an institution’s overall rating is just the start. Reporting that without understanding what’s being rated and how “success” is measured does a disservice to your audience.

Ratings are far from perfect and are ever evolving. That leaves journalists in kind of a quandary, noted chapter president Trudy Lieberman. “What do we do about the ratings, how do we judge them, how do we use them in our stories and which ones should we use?” Continue reading