One of the biggest obstacles to bringing down the cost of health insurance is the lack of information about the wide-ranging costs of medical services. Today, the price of a single procedure can vary widely between communities and providers. By compiling data about the cost of health care across the state, insurers, businesses, and policymakers can better understand where health care dollars are spent and develop ways to make health care spending more efficient.
In recent years, several states have set up databases that collect health insurance claims information from a variety of sources. These statewide databases, often called "all-payer, all-claims" databases, are designed to improve transparency in health care and produce direct cost comparisons across communities, treatment methods, and outcomes. All information collected in the health care database is made anonymous to prevent disclosure of any individual patient's medical history.
In 2011, the Montana legislature passed a bill to study how Montana could build a statewide database to track health care costs and identify ways to cut costs while improving quality of care. The Commissioner of Securities and Insurance is leading the study with an advisory council of medical providers, patient advocates, insurance experts, and policymakers.
If you are interested in learning more about the Health Care Database initiative, or if you'd like to participate in the discussion, contact Amanda Roccabruna Eby at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406.444.4613.