AHIMA supports the use of public policy to ensure that individuals have all the information they need to make informed choices about their healthcare. This includes both access to their personal health information and actionable information about the costs of their healthcare. Health information (HI) professionals have extensive knowledge and expertise to contribute to developing policies to enhance affordability and health information.
While the affordability of healthcare affects many entities, including employers, governments, and health plans, AHIMA is focused on policies to enhance affordability for individuals. To support individuals in making informed decisions about their healthcare, AHIMA believes that public policy must:
Trends in health spending. According to the federal government, health spending in 2019 was $3.8 trillion, or $11,582 per person. Spending is projected to continue growing faster than the economy as a whole over the next decade, accounting for almost 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2028.
Trends in affordability. Most people have health coverage through either an employer or a public program, such as Medicare and Medicaid. However, in 2019, 28.9 million individuals were uninsured. In addition, as healthcare costs have risen, many employers have passed along increases to individuals through higher premiums, deductibles, and other forms of cost-sharing.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average deductible for those with employer-based insurance for a single employee has increased 25 percent over the last five years and 79 percent over the last ten years. Recent years have also seen an increase in high-deductible health plans. According to a recent survey, roughly half of US adults have delayed or avoided care because of cost.
Calls for transparency. As out-of-pocket costs have increased over time, policymakers have increasingly called for transparency in healthcare costs and health plan coverage. The Affordable Care Act of 2009 included the first requirement for hospitals to make available their list of standard charges for items and services. More recently, President Trump issued an Executive Order in June 2019 on “Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First.”
Growth in pricing tools. Similar to advances in the travel industry or retail shopping, technology tools have emerged to help consumers better understand healthcare prices. These tools include, for example, state hospital price comparison tools, websites, and apps that bring together price and quality information for individuals and entities that focus on a particular healthcare sector, such as prescription drugs.
For a comparison of some of these tools, see: Healthcare Transparency. However, consumer use of these tools is still limited. Recent policies that require posting price and coverage information in machine-readable formats could fuel development of more accurate and personalized pricing tools.
January 5, 2021
AHIMA calls for the incoming administration to consider the implications of health information as they begin to implement new health policies in 2021.
January 4, 2021
In this episode of HI Pitch, Lauren Riplinger, AHIMA's vice president of advocacy, public policy and government affairs, reviews the seven policy statements released by AHIMA in 2020.