Public data set highlights: Obamacare and (Medicare) drugs

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Both this week's and last week's editions of Data is Plural featured health-related data sets. This week spotlighted state-specific metrics on the Affordable Care Act:
The Affordable Care Act, quantified. Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a dataset of state-level Obamacare metrics. The dataset is divided into five main categories: coverage gains, employer coverage, individual market coverage, Medicaid, and Medicare. Between 2010 and 2015, the proportion of Nevadans without health insurance dropped from 22.6% to 12.3% — the largest percentage-point decrease of any state. (In 2015, an estimated 17.1% of Texans still didn’t have health insurance, the highest rate of any state that year.) The metrics come from various sources, including the Census, academic studies, and the department’s own estimates.
Last week, which I did not post at the time because I was sick after returning from vacation to Brazil (worth it), Medicare drug costs were featured:
Medicare drug costs. The federal government has released data on Medicare’s prescription drug spending from 2011 to 2015. Previously, Medicare had only published data on the most expensive drugs; the new release includes data on all drugs used by at least 11 Medicare patients in a given year. Caveat: Medicare “is prohibited from publicly disclosing drug-specific information on manufacturer rebates,” so the “spending metrics do not reflect any manufacturers’ rebates or other price concessions.”