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Concept: Health insurance in the United States


Nonadherence to taking prescribed antihypertensive medication (antihypertensive) regimens has been identified as a leading cause of poor blood pressure control among persons with hypertension and an important risk factor for adverse cardiovascular disease outcomes. CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services analyzed geographic, racial-ethnic, and other disparities in nonadherence to antihypertensives among Medicare Part D beneficiaries in 2014.

Concepts: Medicare, Blood pressure, Vital signs, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act


Background From 2011 through 2014, the Federally Qualified Health Center Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration provided care management fees and technical assistance to a nationwide sample of 503 federally qualified health centers to help them achieve the highest (level 3) medical-home recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a designation that requires the implementation of processes to improve access, continuity, and coordination. Methods We examined the achievement of medical-home recognition and used Medicare claims and beneficiary surveys to measure utilization of services, quality of care, patients' experiences, and Medicare expenditures in demonstration sites versus comparison sites. Using difference-in-differences analyses, we compared changes in outcomes in the two groups of sites during a 3-year period. Results Level 3 medical-home recognition was awarded to 70% of demonstration sites and to 11% of comparison sites. Although the number of visits to federally qualified health centers decreased in the two groups, smaller reductions among demonstration sites than among comparison sites led to a relative increase of 83 visits per 1000 beneficiaries per year at demonstration sites (P<0.001). Similar trends explained the higher performance of demonstration sites with respect to annual eye examinations and nephropathy tests (P<0.001 for both comparisons); there were no significant differences with respect to three other process measures. Demonstration sites had larger increases than comparison sites in emergency department visits (30.3 more per 1000 beneficiaries per year, P<0.001), inpatient admissions (5.7 more per 1000 beneficiaries per year, P=0.02), and Medicare Part B expenditures ($37 more per beneficiary per year, P=0.02). Demonstration-site participation was not associated with relative improvements in most measures of patients' experiences. Conclusions Demonstration sites had higher rates of medical-home recognition and smaller decreases in the number of patients' visits to federally qualified health centers than did comparison sites, findings that may reflect better access to primary care relative to comparison sites. Demonstration sites had larger increases in emergency department visits, inpatient admissions, and Medicare Part B expenditures. (Funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.).

Concepts: Better, Medicare, Health insurance, The Higher, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicaid, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare and Medicaid


A growing body of literature describes how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded health insurance coverage. What is less well known is how these coverage gains have affected populations that are at risk for high health spending. To investigate this issue, we used prescription transaction data for a panel of 6.7 million prescription drug users to compare changes in coverage, prescription fills, plan spending, and out-of-pocket spending before and after the implementation of the ACA’s coverage expansion. We found a 30 percent reduction in the proportion of this population that was uninsured in 2014 compared to 2013. Uninsured people who gained private coverage filled, on average, 28 percent more prescriptions and had 29 percent less out-of-pocket spending per prescription in 2014 compared to 2013. Those who gained Medicaid coverage had larger increases in fill rates (79 percent) and reductions in out-of-pocket spending per prescription (58 percent). People who gained coverage who had at least one of the chronic conditions detailed in our study saw larger decreases in out-of-pocket spending compared to those who did not have at least one condition. These results demonstrate that by reducing financial barriers to care, the ACA has increased treatment rates while reducing out-of-pocket spending, particularly for people with chronic conditions.

Concepts: Health care, Pharmacology, Health insurance, Gain, Medicaid, Medical prescription, Insurance, Health insurance in the United States


Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 30 states have expanded Medicaid, with some states choosing to expand private insurance instead (the “private option”). In addition, while coverage gains from the ACA’s Medicaid expansion are well documented, impacts on utilization and health are unclear.

Concepts: Health care, Economics, Health insurance in the United States, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act


Only 2% of acute care hospitals nationwide are safety-net facilities, but they provide 20% of uncompensated care to the uninsured. Because most are in low-income communities, they typically generate scant revenue from privately insured patients. The Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program was established to help defray their costs for uncompensated care.(1) Currently, Medicaid DSH disburses $11.5 billion annually to the states, which have considerable latitude in allocating these funds. Some states carefully target their DSH payments to hospitals providing large volumes of uncompensated care, but others, such as Ohio and Georgia, spread their payments broadly, transforming the program into . . .

Concepts: Patient, Hospital, U.S. state, State, Health insurance in the United States, Social security


To identify the characteristics of the most profitable US hospitals, we examined the profitability of acute care hospitals in fiscal year 2013, measured as net income from patient care services per adjusted discharge. Based on Medicare Cost Reports and Final Rule Data, the median hospital lost $82 for each such discharge. Forty-five percent of hospitals were profitable, with 2.5 percent earning more than $2,475 per adjusted discharge. The ten most profitable hospitals, seven of which were nonprofit, each earned more than $163 million in total profits from patient care services. Hospitals with for-profit status, higher markups, system affiliation, or regional power, as well as those located in states with price regulation, tended to be more profitable than other hospitals. Hospitals that treated a higher proportion of Medicare patients, had higher expenditures per adjusted discharge, were located in counties with a high proportion of uninsured patients, or were located in states with a dominant insurer or greater health maintenance organization (HMO) penetration had lower profitability than hospitals that did not have these characteristics. These findings can inform policy reforms, while providing a baseline against which to measure the impact of any subsequent reforms.

Concepts: Health insurance, Patient, Hospital, Physician, Health maintenance organization, Health insurance in the United States, Profit


Although health policy experts disagree on many issues, they largely agree on the shortcomings of fee-for-service payment. The inefficiency of a payment method that rewards increases in service volume, regardless of health benefit, has become practically indefensible. But replacing discrete payments for each service with bundled payment for a set of services does not simply promote efficiency; it also potentially promotes skimping on care or avoidance of costly patients. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced a large-scale demonstration of bundled payments for hospital and post-acute care services, and President . . .

Concepts: Medicare, Health economics, Health insurance, Economics, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicaid, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare and Medicaid


The U.S. Physician Payments Sunshine Act mandates the reporting of payments or items of value received by physicians from drug, medical device, and biological agent manufacturers. The impact of these payments on physician prescribing has not been examined at large scale.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicare, Medicine, Physician, Anatomy, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act


Few studies have examined rates and causes of short-term readmissions among adults across age and insurance types. We compared rates, characteristics, and costs of 30-day readmission after all-cause hospitalizations across insurance types in the US. We retrospectively evaluated alive patients ≥18 years old, discharged for any cause, 1/1/13-11/31/13, 2006 non-federal hospitals in 21 states in the Nationwide Readmissions Database. The primary stratification variable of interest was primary insurance. Comorbid conditions were assessed based on Elixhauser comorbidities, as defined by administrative billing codes. Additional measures included diagnoses for index hospitalizations leading to rehospitalization. Hierarchical multivariable logistic regression models, with hospital site as a random effect, were used to calculate the adjusted odds of 30-day readmissions by age group and insurance categories. Cost and discharge estimates were weighted per NRD procedures to reflect a nationally representative sample. Diagnoses for index hospitalizations leading to rehospitalization were determined. Among 12,533,551 discharges, 1,818,093 (14.5%) resulted in readmission within 30 days. Medicaid insurance was associated with the highest adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for readmission both in those ≥65 years old (AOR 1.12, 95%CI 1.10-1.14; p <0.001), and 45-64 (AOR 1.67, 95% CI 1.66-1.69; p < 0.001), and Medicare in the 18-44 group (Medicare vs. private insurance: AOR 1.99, 95% CI 1.96-2.01; p <0.001). Discharges for psychiatric or substance abuse disorders, septicemia, and heart failure accounted for the largest numbers of readmissions, with readmission rates of 24.0%, 17.9%, 22.9% respectively. Total costs for readmissions were 50.7 billion USD, highest for Medicare (29.6 billion USD), with non-Medicare costs exceeding 21 billion USD. While Medicare readmissions account for more than half of the total burden of readmissions, costs of non-Medicare readmissions are nonetheless substantial. Medicaid patients have the highest odds of readmission in individuals older than age 44, commonly due to hospitalizations for psychiatric illness and substance abuse disorders. Medicaid patients represent a population at uniquely high risk for readmission.

Concepts: Logit, Hospital, United States, Odds ratio, Mental disorder, Comorbidity, Health insurance in the United States, Diagnosis-related group


IMPORTANCE The effect of surgical complications on hospital finances is unclear. OBJECTIVE To determine the relationship between major surgical complications and per-encounter hospital costs and revenues by payer type. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Retrospective analysis of administrative data for all inpatient surgical discharges during 2010 from a nonprofit 12-hospital system in the southern United States. Discharges were categorized by principal procedure and occurrence of 1 or more postsurgical complications, using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, diagnosis and procedure codes. Nine common surgical procedures and 10 major complications across 4 payer types were analyzed. Hospital costs and revenue at discharge were obtained from hospital accounting systems and classified by payer type. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Hospital costs, revenues, and contribution margin (defined as revenue minus variable expenses) were compared for patients with and without surgical complications according to payer type. RESULTS Of 34 256 surgical discharges, 1820 patients (5.3%; 95% CI, 4.4%-6.4%) experienced 1 or more postsurgical complications. Compared with absence of complications, complications were associated with a $39 017 (95% CI, $20 069-$50 394; P < .001) higher contribution margin per patient with private insurance ($55 953 vs $16 936) and a $1749 (95% CI, $976-$3287; P < .001) higher contribution margin per patient with Medicare ($3629 vs $1880). For this hospital system in which private insurers covered 40% of patients (13 544), Medicare covered 45% (15 406), Medicaid covered 4% (1336), and self-payment covered 6% (2202), occurrence of complications was associated with an $8084 (95% CI, $4903-$9740; P < .001) higher contribution margin per patient ($15 726 vs $7642) and with a $7435 lower per-patient total margin (95% CI, $5103-$10 507; P < .001) ($1013 vs -$6422). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE In this hospital system, the occurrence of postsurgical complications was associated with a higher per-encounter hospital contribution margin for patients covered by Medicare and private insurance but a lower one for patients covered by Medicaid and who self-paid. Depending on payer mix, many hospitals have the potential for adverse near-term financial consequences for decreasing postsurgical complications.

Concepts: Health insurance, Patient, Hospital, Surgery, Physician, Health insurance in the United States, Variable cost, Contribution margin