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HHS Releases Hospital Price Data and Funding for Data Centers

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of Medicare hospital charge data as part of a larger strategy to provide consumers with health care price comparisons. Along with the data release showing wide variation in charges, $87 million in funding to support state “data centers” was also announced. The data center funding is intended to support states with collecting claims data and making meaningful health care cost information available to consumers.

Colorado is ahead of many states by having established the Colorado All Payer Claims Database. CIVHC serves as the Administrator for the database. The CO APCD can provide information on both charges and paid amounts and includes claims for the eight largest commercial carriers (fully insured large-group and individual markets) plus Medicaid. Medicare data is expected to be in the database by 2014.

A new knee replacement report from the APCD identified $44,692 difference between the lowest and highest paid amounts to the top 20 facilities in Colorado by volume (see graph). Facilities aren’t currently identified, but by December, the CO APCD will show risk-adjusted prices (to account for patient level of illness) and quality rankings by named facility and provider groups to allow consumers to shop for health care services.