October 21, 2016 | Sarah Matousek and Emily Eibl

Highlights from the 2016 Massachusetts Healthcare Cost Trends Hearing

This past Monday and Tuesday the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) hosted its 4th annual Healthcare Cost Trends Hearing, bringing together a variety of perspectives from the healthcare community to think strategically about how to address rising healthcare costs, while ensuring high quality care in the Commonwealth.

Each year, the hearing centers around the much-anticipated annual report from the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA).  This year, CHIA reported 4.1% healthcare spending growth for 2015, which missed the Massachusetts benchmark of 3.6%, but was still below the national average of 4.6%. Despite below national average growth, Massachusetts is still the 5th most costly state on healthcare spending per capita, although this might be seen as a victory considering that we once topped the list.

Below are the top 7 highlights from the hearing. Click here to access more detailed information about each highlight:

1. Prices and price variation are driving costs.

2. Drug costs are driving spending and increasing at an astronomical pace with no transparency around how prices are set.

3. Transparency is integral to all positive change in lowering costs and ensuring quality.

4. The burden of healthcare costs is imbalanced, putting too much strain on low income people, small businesses, and private insurers.

5. There is a clear need for better behavioral health integration. 

6. The healthcare community must go after the social determinants of health.

7. Community partnerships and community involvement should be focused on and expanded.