The Health Insurance Experiment's Guidelines for Abstracting Health Services Rendered by Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound

by George A. Goldberg

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This Note reproduces the abstraction guidelines developed for and adhered to during the abstraction of outpatient and inpatient records of more than 1,800 Health Insurance Experiment participants who were enrolled in a well-known prepaid group practice, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Seattle, Washington. In the fee-for-service sector, claim forms submitted for reimbursement permit collection of data on services utilized; but because a prepaid organization generally has no need to submit claim forms for reimbursement purposes, it is necessary to abstract from within-organization records to acquire comparable data on services utilized. The objectives of the Health Insurance Experiment required that the abstraction of health service utilization data from Group Health Cooperative's records be as precise and complete as possible, and that such abstraction be carried out in a standardized, unarbitrary way; hence the need for abstraction guidelines.

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