Background: Diagnosis-based risk adjustment is becoming an important issue globally as a result of its implications for payment, high-risk predictive modelling and provider performance assessment. The Taiwanese National Health Insurance (NHI) programme provides universal coverage and maintains a single national computerized claims database, which enables the application of diagnosis-based risk adjustment. However, research regarding risk adjustment is limited. This study aims to examine the performance of the Adjusted Clinical Group (ACG) case-mix system using claims-based diagnosis information from the Taiwanese NHI programme.Methods: A random sample of NHI enrollees was selected. Those continuously enrolled in 2002 were included for concurrent analyses (n = 173,234), while those in both 2002 and 2003 were included for prospective analyses (n = 164,562). Health status measures derived from 2002 diagnoses were used to explain the 2002 and 2003 health expenditure. A multivariate linear regression model was adopted after comparing the performance of seven different statistical models. Split-validation was performed in order to avoid overfitting. The performance measures were adjusted R2 and mean absolute prediction error of five types of expenditure at individual level, and predictive ratio of total expenditure at group level.Results: The more comprehensive models performed better when used for explaining resource utilization. Adjusted R2 of total expenditure in concurrent/prospective analyses were 4.2%/4.4% in the demographic model, 15%/10% in the ACGs or ADGs (Aggregated Diagnosis Group) model, and 40%/22% in the models containing EDCs (Expanded Diagnosis Cluster). When predicting expenditure for groups based on expenditure quintiles, all models underpredicted the highest expenditure group and overpredicted the four other groups. For groups based on morbidity burden, the ACGs model had the best performance overall.Conclusions: Given the widespread availability of claims data and the superior explanatory power of claims-based risk adjustment models over demographics-only models, Taiwan's government should consider using claims-based models for policy-relevant applications. The performance of the ACG case-mix system in Taiwan was comparable to that found in other countries. This suggested that the ACG system could be applied to Taiwan's NHI even though it was originally developed in the USA. Many of the findings in this paper are likely to be relevant to other diagnosis-based risk adjustment methodologies.
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