NHTSA’s CODES STUDY OVERSTATES MOTORCYCLISTS’ PUBLIC COSTS
MOTORCYCLE RIDERS FOUNDATION — E-Mail News Release
P.O. Box 1808, Washington, D. C. 20013
202-546-0983 — W T Curtin@aol.com
Contact: Carol Simpson
June 28, 1996
WASHINGTON, D.C…Earlier this year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a “Report to Congress on The Benefits of Safety Belts and Motorcycle Helmets.” This report was authorized in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and had a $5 million appropriation for completion. A study titled The Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System (CODES) was the core of this report.
Recently, MRF’s California State Rep, Mike Osborn, was analyzing the CODES study and one figure stuck out and Mike wanted some clarification. His questions were why did the report show that public pay for brain injured non-helmet use was almost twice as high as private insurance and over four times as high as self-pay in a chart titled Average Inpatient Charge by Motorcycle Helmet Use and Brain Injury Status? (Because the facts are misrepresented.) Was this a typographical error? (No.) Are motorcyclists really extreme “public burdens”? (No.)
MRF staff contacted the authors of the study at NHTSA and began asking questions. What MRF found was a reporting system that drastically misrepresents the facts of how much motorcyclists rely on public assistance for health care costs.
MRF’s research determined that the figures used in this report are derived solely from discharge records. Under current practice, when patients enter the hospital with insurance coverage or as a cash payer and their medical expenses eventually exceed the limits of their insurance policy or bank account these patients must then rely on public funds (usually Medicaid) for the completion of their recovery. When any patient’s medical expense payments shifts from insurance or self-pay to public funds the discharge records, which is what the CODES study is based on, state the costs were public pay.
So what this means in the CODES study is: motorcyclists, through insurance and/or self-pay, could pay up to 99.99% of their medical expenses themselves, but the fact that public sources paid as little as 0.01%, the CODES study reports the entire cost of their inpatient costs as public pay. This practice resulted in highly inflated, and incorrect, reporting in the CODES study.
Other charts in the study also reflect these lopsided figures regarding public or private pay, although not as dramatically. Only 28 cases from a total sample of 1593 cases make up the public pay category of chart titled Average Inpatient Charge by Motorcycle Helmet Use and Brain Injury Status. Six states contributed statistics for this study, and the breakout for how many entered the hospital in the same category (insurance, self-pay, public pay) as they were discharged is not available from NHTSA and must be obtained from each state.
The MRF is continuing to investigate this, and other “facts” in the CODES study, and will provide updates as more revealing information becomes available. For more detailed information on the CODES study please contact the MRF office at 202-546-0983.
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation, incorporated in 1987, is a membership based national motorcyclists’ rights organization headquartered in Washington D.C. The MRF is involved in federal and state legislation and regulations, motorcycling safety education, training, licensing and public awareness. The MRF provides members and state motorcyclists’ rights organizations with direction and information to protect motorcyclists’ rights and motorcycling. The MRF sponsors annual regional and national educational seminars for motorcyclists’ rights activists and publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, THE MRF REPORTS. Voice: 202-546-0983, Fax: 202-546-0986, E-Mail: W T Curtin@aol.com, http://www.xmission.com/~mrf