Montana legislator proposes health care database to manage costs

2013-02-20T18:30:00Z Montana legislator proposes health care database to manage costs

HELENA – If Montana’s going to manage and control rising health care costs, it needs accurate information – and the way to get that information is through a statewide “all-payer” database, a Helena lawmaker told a legislative committee Wednesday.

“We all know that what we’ve got today is unsustainable,” Rep. Chuck Hunter, D-Helena, said of rising health care costs. “This bill will create transparency by creating a data pool that will enable us, as a state, to manage that system a lot better than we can do today.”

Hunter is sponsoring House Bill 498, which would authorize the health claims database and set up a nonprofit entity to oversee it.

The database – compiled from claims information provided primarily by health insurers and the state, which runs multimillion-dollar health programs – would cost $1.1 million to build and $300,000 a year to operate, he told the House Business and Labor Committee.

A dozen other states already have built such a system, a half-dozen more are developing one and another 15 are considering it, Hunter said.

The idea is to create a bank of information that businesses, health care providers, policymakers and the public can view, to identify cost trends in health care and figure out ways to address them, he said.

The House committee took no immediate action on Hunter’s bill.

Hunter said the type of questions that could be answered, with help of the database, include why a certain service costs much more or less in different areas of the state, what types of care are most effective and affordable, whether high-deductible insurance policies encourage lower usage of the system, and which business-sponsored health plans might provide better value.

Business groups, health insurers and health care providers testified in favor of HB489; no one opposed it at Wednesday’s hearing.

Hunter noted that health care spending in Montana is about $7 billion a year, or one-fifth of the economy, and has been increasing at rates twice as high as wages.

“We don’t have anything where the management information on what we’re getting and what we’re spending is in one place,” he said. “There isn’t any direct linkage between consumer behavior and cost. … This would provide information in one place.”

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or by email at

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(3) Comments

  1. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - February 21, 2013 3:57 pm
    If that is the case then Hackers should have had no interest in hacking newspapers and magazines, many hackers do it for the sport, thrill and chaos they can cause not only for the money but besides the medical facilities could possibly be storing electronic payment information and social security numbers along with your medical records. I am not getting paranoid on anybody, I just have my guard up as I would recommend many others do to keep from getting taken advantage of, especially the elderly who have a propensity to help others out or are not familiar with many of the new ways con artists work.
  2. Joseph From Missoula
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    Joseph From Missoula - February 21, 2013 10:16 am
    As always, the devil is in the details, but otherwise this seems like a no-brainer. And whoever worries about hacking should understand this: Hackers don't care about your personal health information as they would about your financial information -- nothing in it for them. Don't get paranoid on us.
  3. GaryTinkSanders
    Report Abuse
    GaryTinkSanders - February 20, 2013 8:50 pm
    A data base with all our most private information for hackers to break into and adulterate hippa protected information, I don't think so. The Federal government is hacked into on a daily basis and they have resources and people protecting that 24/7, Credit card companies and banks get hacked with peoples financial information so why would we think this proposed system would be safer and different from all the other agency and data bases out there today. Simple answer is if it is there it will get hacked.
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