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AHRQ State Snapshots Expanded to Include New Data on Health Insurance Coverage

Electronic Newsletter, Issue 290

The annual premium for a family health plan sponsored by an employer cost about 54 percent more in 2009 than it did in 2000, $13,027 and $8,437 (adjusted for inflation), respectively.

The annual premium for a family health plan sponsored by an employer cost about 54 percent more in 2009 than it did in 2000, $13,027 and $8,437 (adjusted for inflation), respectively. During the same period, the average cost of an annual premium for a single coverage plan rose by 41 percent, from $3,308 (adjusted for inflation) to $4,669. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) Statistical Brief #286: State Differences in the Cost of Job-Related Health Insurance, 2009 (PDF File; Plugin Software Help)

Today's Headlines

  1. AHRQ State Snapshots expanded to include new data on health insurance coverage
  2. Comments needed on inventory of comparative effectiveness research
  3. New Patient Centered Medical Home Web Site launched
  4. AHRQ's 2010 Annual Conference: keynote by Atul Gawande
  5. AHRQ Webcast on health outcomes of carotid revascularization
  6. Innovative software cuts costs and time for States to report hospital quality information to the public
  7. Advanced type of cancer radiation reduces side effects, but impact on controlling cancer is unclear
  8. New AHRQ guides offering hospitals advice on emergency evacuation, assessment and recovery are available
  9. New study finds rotator cuff injuries treatable, but evidence unclear whether surgery is preferable
  10. Introducing the Electronic Preventive Services Selector Widget
  11. AHRQ in the professional literature

1. AHRQ State Snapshots Expanded to Include New Data on Health Insurance Coverage

AHRQ's recently released State-by-State quality data has been expanded to include new data on health insurance, including data on health care quality categorized by source of payment, including private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and those without insurance which allows users to compare payer-specific quality rates as well as differences among payers. The 2009 State Snapshots provide State-specific health care quality information, including strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. Overall, States get mixed reviews for the quality of care they provide. 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. State-level information used to create the State Snapshots is based on data collected for the 2009 National Healthcare Quality Report. Select to read our press release and select to access the 2009 State Snapshots.

2. Comments Needed on Inventory of Comparative Effectiveness Research

HHS seeks input on approaches to developing a comparative effectiveness research (CER) inventory that capture ongoing and existing CER in the United States. The inventory will be accessible to the public, including patients, clinicians, and policymakers, through a web-based system. A Request for Information which outlines the requested information was published in the July 19 Federal Register (PDF File; Plugin Software Help). Comments should focus on appropriate resources and approaches for developing the CER Inventory, rather than the methodology of CER or suggestions for particular CER studies that should be included in the CER Inventory. Requested information includes:

  • Suggestions regarding sources of CER and ways to encourage participation in the inventory.
  • Comments related to categorizing conten.
  • Approaches to ensure that the CER Inventory is useful and sustainable over time.

The comments you provide are public information and will be made available to the public on the HHS Web site.

3. New Patient Centered Medical Home Web Site Launched

AHRQ announces the launch of a new Web site devoted to providing objective information to policymakers and researchers on the patient centered medical home. The Patient Centered Medical Home Web site provides users with searchable access to a rich database of publications and other resources on the medical home and exclusive access to the AHRQ-funded white papers focused on critical medical home issues including: Necessary But Not Sufficient: The HITECH Act and Health Information Technology's Potential to Build Medical Homes, Engaging Patients and Families in the Medical Home, Integrating Mental Health Treatment Into the Patient Centered Medical Home.

4. AHRQ's 2010 Annual Conference: Keynote by Atul Gawande

Renowned surgeon, author and innovator Atul Gawande will be the featured speaker for the Tuesday plenary at the 2010 AHRQ Annual Conference. Come hear Dr. Gawande talk about the current state of health care and system transformation in the United States. The conference is scheduled for September 26-29 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Bethesda, MD. Details for the Monday plenary will be announced later this summer.

5. AHRQ Webcast on Health Outcomes of Carotid Revascularization

AHRQ will be reporting findings from a recent study on health outcomes of carotid revascularization via a Webcast on August 19 at 12:00 noon, ET. This 45- minute session, titled Carotid Revascularization: Present Patterns of Use, What Will the Future Hold? will include a panel discussion to be followed by a question-and-answer session. Individuals who are interested in learning more or in participating in this free, live Webcast should visit the AHRQ Effective Health Care Program Web site.

6. Innovative Software Cuts Costs and Time for States to Report Hospital Quality Information to the Public

AHRQ unveiled MONAHRQ — My Own Network Powered by AHRQ—a free, MS Windows-based software application that significantly reduces the cost and time a state, hospital or other organization would need to spend to compile, analyze and post data on quality of hospital care, its cost, and how that care is used. MONAHRQ allows users to create a customized Web site with the data that can be used for internal quality improvement or reporting quality information to the public. A state, or other organization, referred to as the host user, can download MONAHRQ from AHRQ's Web site and enter its own hospital administrative data, which includes such elements as patient characteristics, diagnoses, procedures, health insurance type and charges. MONAHRQ processes that information and then creates a Web site that the host user can customize by selecting a specific color scheme, inserting logos and using other features. Select to learn more about MONAHRQ and download the software.

7. Advanced Type of Cancer Radiation Reduces Side Effects, but Impact on Controlling Cancer Is Unclear

An advanced type of cancer radiation is more successful than traditional radiation in avoiding "dry mouth" when treating head and neck cancers, but it is unknown whether the treatment is better or worse at reducing the size of tumors, according to a new AHRQ comparative effectiveness review. The report finds that intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) leads to fewer cases of xerostomia, commonly known as dry mouth, than other types of radiation. Xerostomia, a potential side effect to radiation when salivary glands are damaged, can affect basic functions like chewing, swallowing and breathing; senses such as taste, smell and hearing; and can significantly alter a patient's appearance and voice. However, the report did not find evidence that IMRT is more successful than any other kind of radiation therapy in reducing tumors. Many scientists consider IMRT to be theoretically better able to target cancerous cells while sparing healthy tissues, but more research is needed. The comparative effectiveness review, Comparative Effectiveness and Safety of Radiotherapy Treatments for Head and Neck Cancer, was authored by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BC/BS) Association, Technology Evaluation Center in Chicago. Select to read our press release and select to access the report (PDF File; Plugin Software Help)

8. New AHRQ Guides Offering Hospitals Advice on Emergency Evacuation, Assessment and Recovery Are Available

Two new guides are now available to help hospital planners and administrators make important decisions about how to protect patients and health care workers and assess the physical components of a hospital when a natural or manmade disaster, terrorist attack, or other catastrophic event threatens the soundness of a facility. The guides examine how hospital personnel have coped under emergency situations in the past to better understand what factors should be considered when making evacuation, shelter-in-place, and reoccupation decisions. Hospital Evacuation Decision Guide and Hospital Assessment and Recovery Guide are intended to supplement hospital emergency plans, augment guidance on determining how long a decision to evacuate may be safely deferred and provide guidance on how to organize an initial assessment of a hospital to determine when it is safe to return after an evacuation. The reports were developed by AHRQ with funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. Free copies of the guides are available by sending an e-mail to

9. New Study Finds Rotator Cuff Injuries Treatable, but Evidence Unclear Whether Surgery Is Preferable

Injuries to the rotator cuff are treatable, but it is unclear which treatment option—surgery or nonsurgical treatments such as exercise or medication—is best, according to a new comparative effectiveness report. Tears to the shoulder's rotator cuff, which is composed of four muscle-tendon units, are common among older adults. Rotator cuff tears can cause significant pain and limit arm motion. The report, prepared by AHRQ's University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center and published in July 5, 2010, Annals of Internal Medicine, examined treatment and rehabilitative options for rotator cuff tears. It found that all treatments, either surgical or nonsurgical, result in improvement, but found few differences between interventions. It also did not find evidence indicating ideal timing of surgery. Select to read our press release and select to access the report.

10. Introducing the Electronic Preventive Services Selector Widget

Access recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) at the click of a button - introducing the Electronic Preventive Services Selector Widget. The Electronic Preventive Services Selector (ePSS) is an application designed to help primary care clinicians identify the screening, counseling, and preventive medication services that are appropriate for their patients. The ePSS widget provides easy and free access to these clinical preventive service recommendations from the USPSTF. A widget is an online tool that can be easily added to any website or blog. Embedding a short amount of web-based code will add the widget to your site and content will be automatically updated. Select to access the Electronic Preventive Services Selector Widget.

11. AHRQ in the Professional Literature

We are providing the following hyperlinks to journal abstracts through PubMed® for your convenience. Unfortunately, some of you may not be able to access the abstracts because of firewalls or specific settings on your individual computer systems. If you are having problems, you should ask your technical support staff for possible remedies.

Bhargava A, Du XL. Racial and socioeconomic disparities in adjuvant chemotherapy for older women with lymph node-positive, operable breast cancer. Cancer 2009 Jul 1; 115(13):2999-3008. Select to access the abstract on PubMed. ®

Harris LT, Haneuse SJ, Martin DP, et al. Diabetes quality of care and outpatient utilization associated with electronic patient-provider messaging: a cross-sectional analysis. Diabetes Care 2009 Jul; 32(7):1182-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed. ®

Resnick B, Gruber-Baldini AL, Zimmerman S, et al. Nursing home resident outcomes from the Res-Care intervention. J Am Geriatr Soc 2009 Jul; 57(7):1156-5. Select to access the abstract on PubMed. ®

Jerant A, Moore-Hill M, Franks P. Home-based, peer-led chronic illness self-management training: findings from a 1-year randomized controlled trial. Ann Fam Med 2009 Jul-Aug; 7(4):319-27. Select to access the abstract on PubMed. ®

Vasilevskis EE, Kazniewicz MW, Cason BA, et al. Mortality probability model III and simplified acute physiology score II: assessing their value in predicting length of stay and comparison to APACHE IV. Chest 2009 Jul; 136(1):89-101. Select to access the abstract on PubMed. ®

Escarce JJ, Kapur K. Do patients bypass rural hospitals? Determinants of inpatient hospital choice in rural California. J Health Care Poor Underserved 2009 Aug; 20(3):625-44. Select to access the abstract on PubMed. ®

Gipson DS, Massengill SF, Yao L, et al. Management of childhood onset nephrotic syndrome. Pediatrics 2009 Aug; 124(2):747-57. Select to access the abstract on PubMed. ®

Contact Information

Please address comments and questions regarding the AHRQ Electronic Newsletter to Nancy Comfort at or (301) 427-1866.

If you have questions about AHRQ's activities, please try to find the answers by checking our Home Page, where we have established links to various topical areas. Also check the News & Information section and Frequently Asked Questions. You may also Browse the Web Site. These features are designed to assist you in obtaining the information you are seeking.

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Page last reviewed August 2010
Internet Citation: AHRQ State Snapshots Expanded to Include New Data on Health Insurance Coverage: Electronic Newsletter, Issue 290. August 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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