Smart Disclosure – Supporting a More Informed Public
HHS is working to do a better, faster job of informing the public about new policies and regulations. A number of projects are aimed at making information readable in digital formats so they may be incorporated in other information systems and services. Provided here are some of the steps to enable disclosure of information to support consumer decision making.
- National Health Interview Survey Early Data Release Project
The National Health Interview Survey’s Early Release (ER) Program provides very timely estimates of key health and health-related indicators through three online reports. Other products include preliminary microdata files that can be used to determine key factors attributable to health issues at an individual level, which allows analysts to access these ER products as much as nine months before the annual release of NHIS public use microdata files. This initiative focuses on one of the ER reports, entitled "Selected Estimates Based on Data from the National Health Interview Survey," that is released quarterly. That report provides data for 15 key health indicators including:
- lack of health insurance coverage and type of coverage
- having a usual place to go for medical care
- current smoking and alcohol consumption
Figures including trends and data by race, age and sex are presented. The NHIS is in the field continuously, and annual public use files are released about six months after each calendar year.
- Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health
This project of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative takes survey data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and transforms it into an easily accessible form aimed at parents, teachers, and others interested in the welfare of children. The mission of the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health (DRC) is to advance the effective use of public data on the status of children’s health and health-related services for children, youth, and families in the United States. The DRC does this by providing hands-on access to national, state, and regional data findings from large population-based surveys. Data are collected from parents and thus contribute a much-needed voice in the drive to improve the quality of health care for children and youth. The DRC provides easily accessible data that do not require statistical expertise. DRC also gives technical assistance on the use of this data and contributes to the maternal and child health (MCH) field through publications and research on the quality of health care systems for children and children with special health care needs.
The “Rate Review” and “Medical Loss Ratio” features of the Affordable Care Act promote transparency while holding insurers accountable for rate increases and how they spend your premium dollars.
- Rate Review: The Affordable Care Act brings an unprecedented level of scrutiny and transparency to health insurance rate increases. It ensures that, in every state, proposed increases of ten percent or more will be evaluated by experts to assess whether they are based on reasonable cost assumptions and solid evidence. The review and scrutiny is expected to prevent unjustified premium hikes by insurance companies and to help provide those who buy insurance with greater value for their premium dollar. Additionally, consumers will benefit from greater transparency as they will be able to access online easy-to-understand information about the reasons behind rate increases and why insurers are seeking the increases. These protections allow consumers to know why they are paying the rates that they are. Detailed information about these reviews became available on September 1, 2011 on HealthCare.gov and the website of the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight.
- Medical Loss Ratio: Beginning in August, 2012, the law requires that insurance companies publicly report how they spend premium dollars. This will give consumers meaningful information on how their premium dollars are spent, clearly accounting for how much money goes toward actual medical care and activities to improve health care quality versus how much money is spent on administrative expenses like marketing, advertising, underwriting, executive salaries, and bonuses. This new transparency gives consumers information on how their premium dollars have been spent.