The true cost of health care is notoriously secret, but an analysis out this week from the Health Care Cost Institute offers a glimpse into how insurance companies spend money in Florida.
“Inpatient prices and outpatient prices can differ within the same area,” says Eric Barrette, director of research for HCCI. “The mix of services isn’t always related to the prices.”
The HCCI researchers created a market index by examining three years’ worth of claims data from the insurers Aetna, Humana and United Healthcare. They discovered that even within the same state, the same geographic region, there are often major differences between how much patients use and pay for care.
Barrette says this report supports what had previously been anecdotal evidence suggesting that inpatient and outpatient care are basically two different markets.
The index comes with an interactive mapping tool that shows how these markets changed within a three-year period.
For example, in South Florida, people spent more than the national average on outpatient care and less than the average on inpatient care. The opposite was true in the Jacksonville area.
Barrette says he hopes the tool will give employers and health plans a way to think about reducing costs--and ultimately, that those decisions will lead to better value for people covered by those plans.