NEW CASTLE, DE — The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) recently announced the launch of a new version of its CostAware website, designed to help Delawareans understand how their health care dollars are spent by comparing the variation of average costs for different episodes of care and medical services based on actual medical claims in Delaware.
In early 2020, DHSS and the Delaware Health Care Commission began working with Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) to develop and implement various health care cost and quality analyses. These analyses leverage data in the Delaware Health Care Claims Database (HCCD), which was established through legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2016. DHIN manages the claims database and DHSS uses it to inform and support a variety of policy initiatives.
The initial version of CostAware, launched in April 2022, compared hospital costs for several common episodes of care at six unnamed hospital systems: cardiac procedures, C-section birth, emergency department visits, knee and hip replacement, and vaginal delivery. The costs across five accountable care organizations (ACOs) are also compared for seven common services: blood count, colonoscopy, doctor visits, hemoglobin A1c, head CT, lumbar spine MRI and screening mammography.
In addition to the above data, this version of CostAware includes the following enhancements:
- Average cost estimates for episodes of care reported for named Delaware hospitals.
- Estimates of the average cost per visit for additional medical services, including child wellness visits, mental and behavioral/health services, diabetes care, cardiac investigations and procedures, doctor visits by complexity, and lab tests (blood and urine tests).
- Results reported by type of care setting (e.g., hospital outpatient facility, outpatient lab, professional office, urgent care facility, and telehealth) to facilitate additional comparisons.
- Additional years of data included – 2020 and 2021 were added to the 2019 data used for CostAware 1.0.
- Trend visualizations, with multiple years of data, show changes over time in average cost, quality, and other measures.
- Improved filtering of results by insurance category (Commercial, Medicaid, Medicare Advantage) and patient age range and gender (as appropriate).
“Since its launch last year, CostAware has served as a valuable tool in highlighting the variation in the cost, utilization, and quality of health care in Delaware,” said DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik, who is also a member of the Delaware Health Care Commission. “We are excited for these additional data enhancements, as they add yet another layer of transparency and awareness around the health care dollars that are spent by Delawareans and their insurers.”
CostAware also includes quality measures, including the readmission and utilization rates, and patient satisfaction scores, all from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as part of its Hospital Compare and Medicare Shared Savings Program initiatives. Each episode of care and service can be filtered further by the type of insurance: commercial, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid.
Early in his administration, Governor John Carney said one of the most important things he could do as Governor is to slow the growth of health care spending. In late 2018, the Governor signed Executive Order 25, establishing a state health care spending benchmark, a per-annum rate-of-growth benchmark for health care spending, and several health care quality measures. The first spending benchmark went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, and was set at 3.8%, with the target expected to decrease gradually to 3% over the following three years. The first benchmark report measured the growth rate at 7.8% for 2019, or more than twice the 3.8% target. This has proven to be an invaluable initiative, which lead to it being codified in 2022 through House Amendment 1 for House Bill 442.
The CostAware website was developed by DHSS and the Health Care Commission in collaboration with DHIN.
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