All About All-Payer Claims Databases

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States need to have comprehensive information on disease incidence, treatment costs, and medical outcomes when formulating and evaluating health care policies. Because such information is often not readily available, a growing number of states are developing all-payer claims databases (APCDs), which combine data from public programs like Medicaid and Medicare, as well as from private insurance carriers and pharmacy benefit managers, to give policymakers statewide information on costs, quality, utilization, and access to care. <br /><br />In a new Commonwealth Fund <a href="~/link.aspx?_id=005D55276C474DF998C72C10ED3F249D&_z=z">issue brief</a> based on a review of current state-run and private APCD initiatives, experts show how these databases are proving to be powerful tools for filling in longstanding gaps in health care information and providing essential trend data that will be needed to guide policymakers through the transitions health care reform will bring. According to the brief, states with APCDs "are well positioned to respond to health care reform challenges and to be active participants in comparative effectiveness research." <br /><br />The authors, led by Denise Love, executive director of the National Association of Health Data Organizations, also explore how states are engaging stakeholders, determining policies for managing, storing, and accessing data, and addressing the challenges of establishing reliable data-reporting standards and planning for the future integration of APCDs with health information exchanges. <br /><br />For additional resources on all-payer claims databases, be sure to visit, which features a Commonwealth Fund–sponsored <a href="; target="_blank">interactive map</a> providing updates on APCD activities across the U.S. <br />