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September 27, 2001, Issue No. 34

AHRQ News and Numbers

The average health insurance premiums in 1999 were $2,325 for single coverage and $6,058 for family coverage. Premiums increased 6.9 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively, over premiums in 1998, continuing a trend of increasing premiums each year since 1996. (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component [MEPS-IC], 1999.)

Today's Headlines:

  1. HHS announces $126 million in relief funds for disaster-impacted health and social services
  2. African-American Medicare beneficiaries less likely than white to receive flu shots regardless of plan type
  3. MEPS-insurance component data released on 1999 health insurance premiums
  4. Cost-effectiveness of practice-initiated quality improvement for depression
  5. Disparities among older women in Medicare managed care
  6. AHRQ released 1998 and 1999 state impatient and ambulatory surgery databases
  7. New Spanish-language resource for consumers on health care quality
  8. Interested in using federal and state databases?
  9. Medicaid managed care seminar
  10. AHRQ senior nurse scholar
  11. Evidence report on the use of epoetin for anemia in chronic renal failure
  12. Evidence report on chronic fatigue syndrome
  13. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  HHS Announces $126 Million in Relief Funds for Disaster-Impacted Health and Social Services

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced on September 21 that $126 million is being provided immediately to support services provided in the wake of the September 11 terrorist-inflicted disasters. The funds are part of a total $5.1 billion in disaster-related funds announced by President Bush. The HHS funds will be used especially to help New York health care facilities cover the extraordinary costs of responding to health care needs; provide social services, including emergency shelter and support for populations with special needs; help provide longer-term mental health and trauma services; and fund needed health services through community health centers. The relief funds are in addition to $2.5 million released September 13 to support social services and mental health services in New York City. In addition to funds and medical supplies, HHS has deployed more than 700 personnel to New York City, Washington, DC, and Somerset County, PA. These include:

  • Medical personnel from HHS.
  • Teams of physicians.
  • Emergency health experts.
  • Mortuary personnel.
  • Veterinarians.

All are provided through the HHS-led National Disaster Medical System. Select for more information.

2.  African-American Medicare Beneficiaries Less Likely than Whites to Receive Flu Shots Regardless of Plan Type

An article in the September 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by Eric C. Schneider, M.D., M.Sc., showed that African-American Medicare beneficiaries are far less likely than white beneficiaries to receive flu shots, regardless of whether they are enrolled in managed care or fee-for-service plans. Select to access the AHRQ Press Release.

3.  MEPS-Insurance Component Data Released on 1999 Health Insurance Premiums

AHRQ today released summary information on average health insurance premiums for employer-sponsored coverage for calendar year 1999, based on data from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component (MEPS-IC). The MEPS-IC includes a sample of business establishments and governments throughout the United States. From this survey, national, regional, and State-level estimates (for almost all States each year) can be made of the amount, types, and costs of health insurance available to Americans through their workplace. Select to access the AHRQ Press Release and to see the MEPS data.

4.  Cost-Effectiveness of Practice-Initiated Quality Improvement for Depression

An article in the September 19 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by AHRQ-grantee Michael Schoenbaum, Ph.D., found that a primary care-based program for patients with depression can improve their quality of life and decrease the number of days they take off from work due to the condition without substantially increasing the cost of treatment.

5.  Disparities Among Older Women in Medicare Managed Care

An article in the Summer issue of Health Care Financing Review coauthored by AHRQ's Arlene Bierman, M.D., features a data analysis conducted as part of a collaboration between AHRQ and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (formerly HCFA). It found that women age 65 and older with less education and lower income were more likely than other women in that age group to report poor health, experience more chronic illness, and feel depressed. A print copy of the article, "Socioeconomic and Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Among Older Women Enrolled in Medicare Managed Care: 1999," is available in the Summer 2001 edition of Health Care Financing Review.

6.  AHRQ Releases 1998 and 1999 State Inpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Databases

New data are now available from AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP):

  • Statewide Inpatient Databases (SID) for 1998 and 1999 currently are available for 13 States—Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • State Ambulatory Surgery Databases (SASD) for 1998 and 1999 are available for 7 States—Colorado, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Utah (1998 only), and Wisconsin.

For information about purchasing these data, call toll-free 1-866-556-4287 or E-mail

7.  New Spanish-Language Resource for Consumers on Health Care Quality

AHRQ announced the availability of a new, concise Spanish-language resource on health care quality to assist patients and consumers in making more informed choices about doctors, hospitals, health plans, and long-term care. Entitled Mejorando la Calidad de la Atención Médica, this brochure provides information and a list of resources aimed at helping people take steps to improve the quality of the care they receive. Select to access the AHRQ Press Release.

8.  Interested in Using Federal and State Databases?

AHRQ is co-sponsoring a seminar November 5-7 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Rockville, MD, to help researchers understand and use Federal and State databases. These include databases of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, National Health Interview Survey and Medicare and Medicaid Databases. The seminar is being held by the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy.

9.  Medicaid Managed Care Seminar

Tufts Managed Care Institute, Partnerships for Quality Education, and AHRQ are co-sponsoring a conference, "Meeting the Challenge of Medicaid Managed Care: Best Practices for Clinical Care and Teaching," November 1-3, at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, VA. The conference is designed to give practitioners and teachers access to best practices and innovations in managing the care of Medicaid and low-income populations, taking into account current trends, model programs, research results, and new approaches to teaching. Select to access the program and registration information. Registration deadline: October 19.

10  AHRQ Senior Nurse Scholar

Patricia Hinton Walker, Ph.D., F.A.A.N., has recently joined AHRQ as our fifth Senior Nurse Scholar. Her project at AHRQ will involve participation in the new research initiative on clinical economics. Outcomes of her project for AHRQ and the American Academy of Nursing will assist nurse researchers to:

  • Select appropriate methodologies for cost-effectiveness research.
  • Identify future research questions that should be addressed by nurse researchers.

In addition, she hopes to explore strategies for improving the doctoral and post-doctoral preparation of nurses in the language, research questions, and methodologies for outcomes research (particularly cost-effectiveness) that will enhance the success of nurse researchers in obtaining support from AHRQ. She comes to AHRQ from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, School of Nursing.

11.  Evidence Report on the Use of Epoetin for Anemia in Chronic Renal Failure

We issued the summary of a new evidence report by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association's Technology Evaluation Center in Chicago entitled Use of Epoetin for Anemia in Chronic Renal Failure. Most patients with end-stage renal disease have anemia, which can be treated with epoetin to raise and maintain the patient's hemoglobin (and hematocrit) levels. Select to access the summary. A print copy of the summary is available by sending an E-mail to

12.  Evidence Report on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The September 19 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) features an article summarizing the findings of two studies on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The AHRQ Evidence-based Practice Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the Veterans Evidence-based Research, Dissemination, and Implementation Center (a Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence) collaborated with the University of York, in England, to write the article reviewing a variety of interventions to treat CFS. Select to access the AHRQ Press Release and summary. A print copy of the summary is available by sending an E-mail to

13.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

  1. Posner SF, Stewart AL, Marin G et al. Factor variability of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) among urban Latinos. Ethn Health 2001 May;6(2):137-44.
  2. Meigs JB, Bohr B, Barry MJ et al. Risk factors for clinical benign prostatic hyperplasia in a community-based population of healthy aging men. J Clin Epidemiol 2001 Sept;54(9):935-44.
  3. Goldman DP, Bhattacharya J, Leibowitz AA et al. The impact of state policy on the costs of HIV infection. Med Care Res Rev 2001 Mar;58(1):31-53.
  4. Saigal S, Stoskopf BL, Streiner DL et al. Physical growth and current health status of infants who were of extremely low birthweight and controls at adolescence. Pediatrics 2001 Aug;108(2):407-15.
  5. Iezzoni LI, McCarthy EP, Davis RB et al. Use of screening and preventive services among women with disabilities. Am J Med Qual 2001 Jul-Aug;16(4):135-44.
  6. Schneider EC, Leape LL, Weissman JS et al. Racial differences in cardiac revascularization rates: does "overuse" explain higher rates among white patients? Ann Intern Med 2001 Sept 4;135(5):328-37.
  7. Grupp-Phelan J, Lozano P, Fishman P. Health care utilization and cost in children with asthma and selected comorbidities. J Asthma 2001 Jun;38(4):363-73.
  8. Groeneveld PW, Kwong JL, Rodriguez AJ et al. Cost-effectiveness of automated external defibrillators on airlines. JAMA 2001 Sept 26;286(12):1482-9.
  9. Dwight-Johnson M, Unutzer J, Sherbourne C et al. Can quality improvement programs for depression in primary care address patient preferences for treatment? Med Care 2001 Sept;39(9):934-44.
  10. Dexter PR, Perkins S, Overhage JM. A computerized reminder system to increase the use of preventive care for hospitalized patients. N Engl J Med 2001 Sept 27;345(13):965-70.

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Current as of September 2001


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