FAIR Health Presents at Texas State of Reform Conference
On February 4, FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd virtually presented to the Texas State of Reform Health Policy Conference. Ms. Gelburd shared data revealing how the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the healthcare delivery system in Texas. This session was Ms. Gelburd’s seventh presentation delivered to a State of Reform conference.
During the session, entitled “How COVID Has Impacted Texas Health Care,” Ms. Gelburd presented alongside two other speakers—W. Stephen Love, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, and David Gruber, Associate Commissioner of Regional and Local Health Operations at the Texas Department of State Health Services—to an audience of healthcare stakeholders, including payors, providers, researchers and government agencies, among others. A sampling of the topics Ms. Gelburd covered included:
Facility and Professional Utilization
Ms. Gelburd presented data on facility and professional services, revealing that their utilization had declined in Texas and nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, for example, national utilization of facilities decreased 45 percent compared to the same month in 2019. Texas similarly saw a sharp decline in facility utilization, dropping 37 percent between March 2019 and March 2020.
Use of professional services also fell at the beginning of the pandemic. The decline in Texas, however, was nearly half of what occurred on the national level. In March 2020, professional utilization in Texas dropped 36 percent when compared to the same month in 2019, while declining 65 percent nationally.
Ms. Gelburd also presented findings on the pandemic’s effect on the use of telehealth as a venue of care. FAIR Health claims data revealed that telehealth services increased significantly in both urban and rural locations throughout Texas in 2020. Between February and March 2020, telehealth utilization increased 513 percent in urban areas and 2,250 percent in rural areas.
For the rest of the year, telehealth services remained at a much higher percentage of all medical claim lines compared to 2019. When comparing telehealth claim lines in October 2019 and October 2020, the data showed a 1,325 percent increase in rural areas and a 3,500 percent increase in urban areas.
Presenting data from FH® Total Treatment Cost benchmarks, Ms. Gelburd discussed how costs for three COVID-19 treatment types—outpatient, inpatient and intensive care unit (ICU)—vary throughout the state of Texas.
An ICU stay, for example, is the most expensive treatment type for COVID-19. Average billed charges range from $420,000 in Athens and Tyler, Texas, to $338,000 in Houston. The average national billed charge is $315,000.
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