Employers Unfamiliar With Health Plan Quality Information

Most employers that offer health insurance are unfamiliar with objective data and ratings of health plan quality, according to recent research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The study found that only 7 percent of employers who offer health insurance use objective quality information; 89 percent do not use or are unfamiliar with any of the objective sources tested by the survey.

The study measured the extent to which employers are familiar with Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) Scores, which are health insurance plan quality ratings collected by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA); eValue8 data from the National Business Coalition on Health (which includes performance reports that allow business participants to assess health care plans); and Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) data (a survey of consumers and patients about their experiences with health care).

The survey found the following:

• 60 percent of employers offering health insurance say quality ratings are an important factor when choosing a plan, though most are unfamiliar with independent sources of quality data, such as CAHPS or HEDIS metrics. Businesses with 50 or more employees are more likely than those with fewer than 50 employees to use independent sources.

• 4 percent of employers say their organization uses HEDIS Scores and 65 percent say they are not familiar with this source. Another 4 percent say their organization uses CAHPS data; 64 percent say they are not familiar with this source. One percent of employers say their organization uses eValue8, and 61 percent say they are not familiar with it.

• 36 percent of employers offering health insurance say their organization uses quality data provided directly by the health plan, 37 percent say they do not use this source, and 25 percent are unfamiliar with such a source.

• 24 percent say their organization uses other sources to evaluate health insurance plan quality, including brokers or consultants (15 percent), references from other businesses (2 percent), employee feedback (2 percent), and their own research (2 percent).

The survey contains responses from 1,061 employers with at least three employees. For more information, visit http://www.rwjf.org.

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