Aetna, Humana, Kaiser, UnitedHealthcare team up to trend claims data

The heavy hitters of health insurers yesterday launched the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), in which Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and UnitedHealth Group will regularly supply information on more than 5 billion claims to academic researchers, reports the New York Times. The Institute represents a move to cut pricing variations between Medicare and private health plans.

The Institute builds on Medicare's existing data that offers limited information, according to the NYT article. In a move toward transparency, according to UnitedHealth's Executive Vice President Simon Stevens, the Institute will provide claims data to qualified researchers about healthcare prices and use of services.  

"This is the first time that the claims data paid by carriers will be available to produce public reports and for researchers to be able to use the data," said Roy Goldman, a vice president and chief actuary for Humana. The HCCI calls the Institute a first of its kind, according to its website.

The decade's worth of claims represent more than $1 trillion in healthcare activity and more than 5,000 hospitals and 1 million other service providers, according to The Hill.

The data, starting from 2000, will not include identifying information, such as individual providers' or patients' information. The public will have access to summary data twice a year.

The goal of the joint data is to draw trends about which programs and types of care are the most expensive or least expensive. Based on that aggregated information, the Institute will issue scorecards of healthcare costs and utilization, but it isn't intended to be a consumer tool for researching pricing or quality results, according to Dr. Martin Gaynor, a health economist at Carnegie Mellon University, in a Wall Street Journal article.

For more information:
- read the NYT article
- read the WSJ article
- read The Hill blog post
- check out the HCCI website

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