AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
At the American Society of Health Economists Conference, AHRQ to Highlight Its Deep Dive into COVID-19
At this time of year, as several of my colleagues and I prepare to attend the annual research conference of the American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon), we are pleased for the chance to highlight how AHRQ data and analytic resources have been brought to bear on many central issues related to healthcare policy.
Our Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) data provide a unique basis for analyzing both the parameters of the current U.S. healthcare system and how changes to that system can affect the cost, quality, and access to the care that is delivered in this country.
At this year’s ASHEcon conference, which begins Sunday, the power and breadth of these analytic resources will be on display. The conference will feature six oral presentations and four poster presentations authored by AHRQ staff on critical issues of importance to the use and financing of healthcare in the U.S. These analyses and others are essential to inform ongoing efforts to address the fragmentation and misaligned incentives that in many instances have compromised the efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery.
One of the most urgent challenges currently facing U.S. healthcare is understanding and quantifying the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and how we can mitigate the adverse effects of these kinds of catastrophic events in the future. Several of AHRQ’s ASHEcon presentations address this issue.
For example, Sam Zuvekas, Ph.D., will present a paper based on MEPS data that examines how the pandemic affected mental health and mental health treatment. Salam Abdus, Ph.D., will present a poster, also based on the MEPS, that examines the effect of COVID-19 on Medicaid eligibility and enrollment.
Asako Moriya, Ph.D., will present a paper, based on HCUP data, which analyzes how experience dealing with COVID-19 at hospitals in the first year of the pandemic affected the quality of the care delivered to patients with the disease. Asako is also presenting a MEPS-based paper on how health insurance coverage changed two years after the start of the pandemic. Lan Liang, Ph.D., will present an HCUP-based analysis of COVID-19’s impact on racial and ethnic differences in emergency department use related to mental health and substance use disorders.
AHRQ analysts will also highlight how our data has been used to examine other salient economic issues affecting the delivery of healthcare services in the U.S. For example, William Encinosa, Ph.D., will present a paper on racial and ethnic disparities in the costs and outcomes of smoking. Didem Bernard, Ph.D., will present a poster examining the effects of smoking on opioid use among adults with chronic pain. Didem will also present a poster on veterans’ experiences (e.g., patient communication, medical records access, and providers’ knowledge of treatments) with both Veterans Administration (VA) and non-VA healthcare providers. Both presentations are based on data from the MEPS.
Other MEPS-based presentations include an analysis by Giacomo Meille, Ph.D., and Jessica Monnet Ph.D., on the effects of Catholic hospital affiliation on postpartum contraceptive care, as well as Didem Bernard’s examination of healthcare barriers to care, financial burdens, and medical debt in the U.S. noninstitutionalized (community) population.
Although these presentations represent a small sampling of AHRQ’s analytic output, I believe they demonstrate the breadth and depth of the Agency’s capacity to provide vital information on the U.S. healthcare system, which can help inform and energize the health policy and health economics research communities.
I invite you to attend these presentations at ASHEcon if you are at the conference, and if not, to read the eventual papers, briefs, and reports that are created from them after its conclusion.
Dr. Cohen is Director of AHRQ’s Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends.