AHRQ Expands Data on Health Insurance, Quality

John Commins, July 28, 2010

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's annual release of state-by-state quality data now has data on health insurance, including healthcare quality categorized by private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and the uninsured, AHRQ announced Tuesday


“The addition of the insurance information to the State Snapshots adds one more dimension to the picture of health care quality and disparities in individual states and regions,” says AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, MD. “The 2009 State Snapshots continue to evolve into an invaluable resource for state officials and other stakeholders.”

The health insurance section allows users to compare payer-specific quality rates as well as differences among payers. For example, a state can compare the quality of care received by Medicaid or uninsured patients with that received by these same patients nationally. In addition, a state can assess whether its insurance-related disparities are larger or smaller compared with the nation as a whole, AHRQ says.

Snapshots provide state-specific healthcare quality information, including strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. Overall, states get mixed reviews for the quality of care they provide. As in previous years, AHRQ's 2009 State Snapshots show that no state does well or poorly on all quality measures.

Maine, Maryland, Wyoming, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia showed the greatest improvement. The five states showing the smallest improvement were North Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Nebraska, and Washington State. For each state, specific clinical conditions could be identified that account for different rates of improvement.

The 2009 State Snapshots summarizes healthcare quality in three dimensions: types of care (preventive, acute, and chronic care), settings of care (hospitals, ambulatory settings, nursing homes, and home healthcare) and clinical conditions (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, maternal and child health, and respiratory disease). There are also special focus areas on diabetes, asthma, Healthy People 2010 objectives, clinical preventive services, and disparities.

Snapshots also provide more ways to analyze the quality of healthcare for each state compared with all states, as well as with states in the same region. New and enhanced features include sections on asthma care, diabetes care, and healthcare disparities.

State-level information used to create the State Snapshots is based on data collected for the 2009 National Healthcare Quality Report.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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