Consumer Advocates Criticize Blue Shield’s Rating, Review System
Consumer advocates say an online health plan review site launched by Blue Shield of California is not helpful enough, Payers & Providers reports.
The insurer launched the "Ratings and Reviews" system 18 months ago to let policyholders post reviews of their health plans.
Users can provide ratings under six different categories that include:
- Access to physicians;
- Customer service; and
- Overall satisfaction.
Rob Geyer, Blue Shield senior vice president, said the system would enable the insurer to be "fully transparent" and encourage members to share their experiences online.
As of last month, Blue Shield officials said nearly 2,000 members hadÂ posted reviews, with an average four-star rating out of five total stars.
Hard To Find Reviews
According to Payers & Providers, it can be challenging to find the reviews on the website.
Although policyholders can post comments and reviews, they can view only reviews about the specific plan that they are enrolled in, according to an examination of the system's member portal and a Blue Shield spokesperson.
Reviews are not available for viewing if fewer than 10 reviews are posted for a specific plan.
Advocates Weigh In
Consumer advocates have said that making the reviews hard to find defeats the purpose of educating consumers.
Laurie Sobel, a senior attorney with Consumers Union in San Francisco, said the rating and review system "can only serve in the limited capacity of confirming their own experiences with their specific health plan."
Judy Dugan, research director for Consumer Watchdog, said the system does not allow policyholders to identify possible patterns of problems with Blue Shield plans.
Blue Shield's Response
Blue Shield spokesperson Johnny Wong said the insurer is "developing the ability for non-members to be able to read all reviews of any Blue Shield health plan to better enable them to make decisions about their health coverage" (Payers & Providers, 7/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.