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Commercial payers to open $1T in claims data to researchers

Bloomberg Businessweek, September 21, 2011

Major health insurers are pooling more than $1 trillion in claims data and creating an institute to cull the statistics and identify the drivers of higher health spending. More than 5 billion medical claims from Aetna Inc., Humana Inc., Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealth Group Inc. will be collected and combined with government health claims data by the newly formed Health Care Cost Institute. The nonprofit group, which will likely be housed in Washington, will begin publishing semi-annual scorecards beginning next year on spending and consumption of health-care services and products. Policy makers and researchers have been frustrated by the limited availability of information from commercial insurers, who provide coverage for about two-thirds of Americans with insurance, said Martin Gaynor, a professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who will lead the institute. Much of the available data now comes from Medicare, the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled.