This Chartbook on Care Affordability is part of a family of documents and tools that support the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report (QDR). The QDR includes annual reports to Congress mandated in the Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-129). These reports provide a comprehensive overview of the quality of health care received by the general U.S. population and disparities in care experienced by different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. The purpose of the reports is to assess the performance of our health system and to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses in the health care system along three main axes: access to health care, quality of health care, and priorities of the National Quality Strategy.
The reports are based on more than 250 measures of quality and disparities covering a broad array of health care services and settings. Data are generally available through 2013. The reports are produced with the help of an Interagency Work Group led by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and submitted on behalf of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Key Findings of the 2015 QDR
- Access to care has improved dramatically.
- Quality of care continues to improve, but wide variation exists across the National Quality Strategy (NQS) priorities:
- Effective Treatment measures indicate improvements in overall performance and reductions in disparities.
- Care Coordination measures have lagged behind other priorities in overall performance.
- Patient Safety, Person-Centered Care, and Healthy Living measures have improved overall, but many disparities remain.
- Despite progress in some areas, disparities related to race and socioeconomic status persist among measures of access and all NQS priorities.
- Improvements in access were led by sustained reductions in the number of Americans without health insurance and increases in the number of Americans with a usual source of medical care.
- Care Affordability measures are limited for summarizing performance and disparities.
- Disparities in access tend to be more common than disparities in quality.
Chartbooks Organized Around Priorities of the National Quality Strategy
- Making care safer by reducing harm caused in the delivery of care.
- Ensuring that each person and family is engaged as partners in their care.
- Promoting effective communication and coordination of care.
- Promoting the most effective prevention and treatment practices for the leading causes of mortality, starting with cardiovascular disease.
- Working with communities to promote wide use of best practices to enable healthy living.
- Making quality care more affordable for individuals, families, employers, and governments by developing and spreading new health care delivery models.
Care Affordability is one of the six national priorities identified by the National Quality Strategy (http://www.ahrq.gov/workingforquality/index.html).
The National Quality Strategy has identified two long-term goals related to care affordability:
- Ensure affordable and accessible high-quality health care for people, families, employers, and governments.
- Support and enable communities to ensure accessible, high-quality care while reducing waste and fraud.
The National Quality Strategy recognizes that while this will be a challenge, the goal of reducing health care costs is important to everyone because of the impact of rising costs on families, employers, and State and Federal governments. Reducing costs must be considered hand in hand with the aims of better care, healthier people and communities, and affordable care.