Policy Analyses

Title Date
Bridging the Disconnect Between Patient Wishes and Care at the End of Life

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 12

Most Americans want to die at home, but most die in hospitals or other facilities. Most people care more about quality of life than prolonging life as long as possible, but many receive invasive, life-sustaining treatments that diminish quality of life. Often, the disconnect between patient wishes and actual care…

Hospital Quality Reporting: Separating the Signal from the Noise

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 11

Gaps in hospital safety and quality have prompted public and private payers to push for greater accountability through clinical quality measurement and reporting initiatives, which have grown rapidly in the past two decades. With U.S. health care costs high and rising, purchasers increasingly are seeking to identify high-value hospitals that…

Adapting Tools from Other Nations to Slow U.S. Prescription Drug Spending

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 10

Outpatient prescription drugs account for about 10 percent—$259 billion in 2010—of total U.S. health spending. Expiring patents on many of the most commonly prescribed drugs have helped slow the rate of spending growth in recent years, but drug spending is likely to accelerate again as new drugs come to market.…

Addressing Hospital Pricing Leverage through Regulation: State Rate Setting

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 9

Although U.S. health care spending growth has slowed in recent years, health spending continues to outpace growth of the overall economy and workers’ wages. There are clear signs that rising prices paid to medical providers—especially for hospital care—play a significant role in rising premiums for privately insured people. Over the…

State Benefit Mandates and National Health Reform

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 8

From requirements that insurers cover prescription drugs to services of chiropractors, state health benefit mandates have a long and controversial history. Critics contend mandates drive up health insurance costs, while advocates assert they ensure access to important care. The 2010 national health reform law requires states to pay for mandated…

Matching Supply to Demand: Addressing the U.S. Primary Care Workforce Shortage

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 7

While there is little debate about a growing primary care workforce shortage in the United States, precise estimates of current and projected need vary. A secondary problem contributing to addressing capacity shortfalls is that the distribution of primary care practitioners often is mismatched with patient needs. For example, patients in…

Promoting Healthy Competition in Health Insurance Exchanges: Options and Trade-offs

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 6

Under national health reform, new federal rules will govern the nongroup and small-group health insurance markets, including a requirement for state-based health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, to be operational by Jan. 1, 2014. Between now and then, both the federal government and states must make key decisions about the design…

Policy Options to Encourage Patient-Physician Shared Decision Making

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 5

Major discrepancies exist between patient preferences and the medical care they receive for many common conditions. Shared decision making (SDM) is a process where a patient and clinician faced with more than one medically acceptable treatment option jointly decide which option is best based on current evidence and the patient’s…

Geographic Variation in Health Care: Changing Policy Directions

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 4

Dating back more than 40 years, a large body of research has identified wide geographic variation in fee-for-service Medicare spending and service utilization. A major early conclusion of geographic variation research was that care is provided much more efficiently in some areas of the United States than in others, with…

Comparative Effectiveness Research and Medical Innovation

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 3

Many believe the renewed U.S. public investment in determining what treatments work best for which patients in real-world settings—known as comparative effectiveness research (CER)—will improve patient care by strengthening the evidence base for medical decisions. A major goal of CER is to encourage the use of effective therapies and discourage…

Health Coverage for the High-Risk Uninsured: Policy Options for Design of the Temporary High-Risk Pool

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 2

Health Coverage for the High-Risk Uninsured:Policy Options for Design of the Temporary High-Risk Pool By Mark Merlis Among the first tasks required by the recently enacted health reform law is creation of a  temporary national high-risk pool program to provide subsidized health coverage to people who are uninsured because of…

Episode-Based Payments: Charting a Course for Health Care Payment Reform

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 1

As consensus grows that true reform of the U.S. health care system requires a move away from fee-for-service payments, designing alternative payment methods, including episode-based payments, has emerged as a high priority for policy makers. An episode-based payment approach would essentially bundle payment for some or all services delivered to…

Rough Passage: Affordable Health Coverage for Near-Elderly Americans

HSC Policy Analysis No. 2

Adequate and affordable insurance coverage is a particular concern for near-elderly Americans—those aged 55 to 64—because this group is at greater risk for serious health problems and high health care costs than younger adults. Moreover, because of their age and increased likelihood of health problems, the near elderly without access…