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2018 Scorecard on State Health System Performance

May 3, 2018

Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, and Utah are the top-ranked states according to the Commonwealth Fund's 2018 Scorecard on State Health System Performance, which assesses all 50 states and the District of Columbia on more than 40 measures of access to health care, quality of care, efficiency in care delivery, health outcomes, and income-based health care disparities.The 2018 Scorecard reveals that states are losing ground on key measures related to life expectancy. On most other measures, performance continues to vary widely across states; even within individual states, large disparities are common.Still, on balance, the Scorecard finds more improvement than decline between 2013 and 2016 in the functioning of state health care systems. This represents a reversal of sorts from the first decade of the century, when stagnating or worsening performance was the norm.

Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to Care: Has the Affordable Care Act Made a Difference?

August 24, 2017

Issue: Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to face barriers in access to health care.Goal: Assess the effect of the ACA's major coverage expansions on disparities in access to care among adults.Methods: Analysis of nationally representative data from the American Community Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.Findings and Conclusions: Between 2013 and 2015, disparities with whites narrowed for blacks and Hispanics on three key access indicators: the percentage of uninsured working-age adults, the percentage who skipped care because of costs, and the percentage who lacked a usual care provider. Disparities were narrower, and the average rate on each of the three indicators for whites, blacks, and Hispanics was lower in both 2013 and 2015 in states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA than in states that did not expand. Among Hispanics, disparities tended to narrow more between 2013 and 2015 in expansion states than nonexpansion states. The ACA's coverage expansions were associated with increased access to care and reduced racial and ethnic disparities in access to care, with generally greater improvements in Medicaid expansion states.

Aiming Higher: Results from the Commonwealth Fund Scorecard on State Health System Performance, 2017 Edition

March 16, 2017

Issue: States are a locus of policy and leadership for health system performance.Goal: To compare and evaluate trends in health care access, quality, avoidable hospital use and costs, health outcomes, and health system equity across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.Methods: States are ranked on 44 performance measures using recently available data. Key findings: Nearly all states improved more than they worsened between 2013 and 2015. The biggest gains were in health insurance coverage and the ability to access care when needed, with states that had expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act experiencing the most improvement. There were also widespread state improvements on key indicators of treatment quality and patient safety; hospital patient readmissions also fell in many states. However, premature deaths crept up in almost two-thirds of states, reversing a long period of decline. Wide variations in performance across states persisted, as did disparities experienced by vulnerable populations within states.Conclusion: If every state achieved the performance of top-ranked states, their residents and the country as a whole would realize dramatic gains in health care access, quality, efficiency, and health outcomes.

A Long Way in a Short Time: States' Progress on Health Care Coverage and Access, 2013-2015

December 19, 2016

Issue: The Affordable Care Actís policy reforms sought to expand health insurance coverage and make health care more affordable. As the nation prepares for policy changes under a new administration, we assess recent gains and challenges.Goal: To compare access to affordable health care across the U.S. between 2013 and 2015. Methods: Analysis of most recent publicly available data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.Key findings and conclusions: Between 2013 and 2015, uninsured rates for adults ages 19 to 64 declined in all states and by at least 3 percentage points in 48 states and the District of Columbia. For children, uninsured rates declined by at least 2 percentage points in 28 states. The share of adults age 18 and older who reported forgoing a visit to the doctor when needed because of costs dropped by at least 2 percentage points in 38 states and D.C. In contrast, there was little progress in expanding access to dental care for adults, which is not a required benefit under the ACA. These findings illustrate the impact that policy can have on access to care and offer a focal point for assessing future policy changes.

Health System Performance for the High-Need Patient: A Look at Access to Care and Patient Care Experiences

August 1, 2016

Achieving a high-performing health system will require improving outcomes and reducing costs for high-need, high-cost patients—those who use the most health care services and account for a disproportionately large share of health care spending. Goal: To compare the health care experiences of adults with high needs—those with three or more chronic diseases and a functional limitation in the ability to care for themselves or perform routine daily tasks—to all adults and to those with multiple chronic diseases but no functional limitations. Methods: Analysis of data from the 2009–2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Key findings: High-need adults were more likely to report having an unmet medical need and less likely to report having good patient–provider communication. High-need adults reported roughly similar ease of obtaining specialist referrals as other adults and greater likelihood of having a medical home. While adults with private health insurance reported the fewest unmet needs overall, privately insured highneed adults reported the greatest difficulties having their needs met. Conclusion: The health care system needs to work better for the highest-need, most-complex patients. This study's findings highlight the importance of tailoring interventions to address their needs

The Changing Landscape of Health Care Coverage and Access: Comparing States' Progress in the ACA's First Year

December 9, 2015

This analysis compares access to affordable health care across U.S. states after the first year of the Affordable Care Act's major coverage expansions. It finds that in 2014, uninsured rates for working-age adults declined in nearly every state compared with 2013. There was at least a three-percentage-point decline in 39 states. For children, uninsured rates declined by at least two percentage points in 16 states. The share of adults who said they went without care because of costs decreased by at least two points in 21 states, while the share of at-risk adults who had not had a recent checkup declined by that same amount in 11 states. Yet there was little progress in expanding access to dental care for adults, which is not a required insurance benefit under the ACA. Wide variation in insurance coverage and access to care persists, highlighting many opportunities for states to improve.

Aiming Higher: Results from a Scorecard on State Health System Performance, 2015 Edition

December 9, 2015

The fourth Commonwealth Fund Scorecard on State Health System Performance tells a story that is both familiar and new. Echoing the past three State Scorecards, the 2015 edition finds extensive variation among states in people's ability to access care when they need it, the quality of care they receive, and their likelihood of living a long and healthy life. However, this Scorecard—the first to measure the effects of the Affordable Care Act's 2014 coverage expansions—also finds broad-based improvements. On most of the 42 indicators, more states improved than worsened. By tracking performance measures across states, this Scorecard can help policymakers, health system leaders, and the public identify opportunities and set goals for improvement. The 50 states and the District of Columbia are measured and ranked on 42 indicators grouped into five domains: access and affordability, prevention and treatment, avoidable hospital use and cost, healthy lives, and equity. Individual indicators measure things like rates of children or adults who are uninsured, hospital patients who get information about how to handle their recovery at home, hospital admissions for children with asthma, and breast and colorectal cancer deaths, among many others.

Findings from a Survey of Health Care Delivery Innovation Centers

April 28, 2015

Health care innovation centers around the country are working to discover, develop, test, and spread new models of care delivery--in hospitals, clinics, and patients' homes. Between November 2014 and January 2015, The Commonwealth Fund conducted an online survey of innovation centers affiliated with health care organizations to learn about their potential role in promoting health system transformation.Survey findings presented in this chartpack reveal how innovation centers define innovation, what factors into investment decisions, which technologies are most commonly used, and much more. While innovation centers have the potential to contribute to health system transformation, it appears that to succeed they will need sustainable funding and greater integration with clinical enterprises. The survey also reveals that innovation centers may benefit from collaboration to identify solutions to common problems and develop a mechanism for spreading their work.

Closing the Gap: Past Performance of Health Insurance in Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to Care Could Be an Indication of Future Results

March 5, 2015

This historical analysis shows that in the years just prior to the Affordable Care Act's expansion of health insurance coverage, black and Hispanic working-age adults were far more likely than whites to be uninsured, to lack a usual care provider, and to go without needed care because of cost. Among insured adults across all racial and ethnic groups, however, rates of access to a usual provider were much higher, and the proportion of adults going without needed care because of cost was much lower. Disparities between groups were narrower among the insured than the uninsured, even after adjusting for income, age, sex, and health status. With surveys pointing to a decline in uninsured rates among black and Hispanic adults in the past year, particularly in states extending Medicaid eligibility, the ACA's coverage expansions have the potential to reduce, though not eliminate, racial and ethnic disparities in access to care.

Access to Primary and Preventive Health Care Across States Prior to the Coverage Expansions of the Affordable Care Act

July 17, 2014

One goal of health insurance is ensuring people have timely access to primary and preventive care. This issue brief finds wide differences in primary and preventive care access among adults under age 65—across states and within states by income—before the Affordable Care Act's major insurance expansions took effect. When comparing experiences of adults with insurance, the analysis finds that state and income differences narrow markedly. When insured, middle- and lower-income adults across states are far more likely to have a regular source of care, receive preventive care, and be able to afford care when needed. The findings highlight the potential of expanding health insurance to reduce the steep geographic and income divide in primary and preventive care that existed across the country before 2014. Success will depend on the participation of all states. This brief offers baseline data for states and the nation to track and assess change.

Aiming Higher: Results from a State Scorecard on Health System Performance, 2014

April 30, 2014

The Commonwealth Fund's Scorecard on State Health System Performance, 2014, assesses states on 42 indicators of health care access, quality, costs, and outcomes over the 2007–2012 period, which includes the Great Recession and precedes the major coverage expansions of the Affordable Care Act. Changes in health system performance were mixed overall, with states making progress on some indicators while losing ground on others. In a few areas that were the focus of national and state attention—childhood immunizations, hospital readmissions, safe prescribing, and cancer deaths— there were widespread gains. But more often than not, states exhibited little or no improvement. Access to care deteriorated for adults, while costs increased. Persistent disparities in performance across and within states and evidence of poor care coordination highlight the importance of insurance expansions, health care delivery reforms, and payment changes in promoting a more equitable, highquality health system.

America's Underinsured: A State-by-State Look at Health Insurance Affordability Prior to the New Coverage Expansions

March 25, 2014

The Affordable Care Act insurance reforms seek to expand coverage and to improve the affordability of care and premiums. Before the implementation of the major reforms, data from U.S. census surveys indicated nearly 32 million insured people under age 65 were in households spending a high share of their income on medical care. Adding these "underinsured" people to the estimated 47.3 million uninsured, the state share of the population at risk for not being able to afford care ranged from 14 percent in Massachusetts to 36 percent to 38 percent in Idaho, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. Nationally, more than half of people with low incomes and 20 percent of those with middle incomes were either underinsured or uninsured in 2012. The report provides state baselines to assess changes in coverage and affordability and compare states as insurance expansions and market reforms are implemented.