Two researchers from The Hilltop Institute at UMBC have received a National Science Foundation grant to investigate hospital price transparency.

With the nearly $300,000 award funded by the Build and Broaden initiative, Morgan Henderson, principal data scientist and affiliate professor of economics; and Morgane Mouslim, policy analyst, will collect and synthesize prices for common health services now being posted by hospitals in response to a 2021 federal mandate intended to help patients “shop” for lower-priced care.

Henderson and Mouslim will use the data to study hospital pricing behavior and make the data available to other researchers. Hospital care is a major driver of spiraling health care costs and this work has the potential to refocus the conversation among policymakers, practitioners and consumers.

Hilltop pairs novel problem-solving and big data to address pressing issues related to access to health care and the delivery and financing of services. A major piece of this involves working with the Maryland Department of Health to advance the health of Marylanders with low incomes and disabilities in the Medicaid program.

Hilltop’s interagency agreement with the department for policy analysis and analytical support for the Medicaid program — renewed annually since 1994 — topped $10 million in 2022.

Hilltop maintains an extensive data repository to house Maryland Medicaid data. Using this data, Hilltop calculates the fixed monthly payments the state pays to health plans for each of its members participating in HealthChoice, totaling more than $7 billion in 2022.

The repository also houses Maryland hospital discharge data, Medicare data, nursing home assessment data, data on commercially insured individuals, and more. Hilltop is building interactive data dashboards and visualizations that the department can use daily to guide decision-making on programs and services.