Insurers Criticize Covered California for Delaying Quality Ratings
On Monday, three large insurers sent a letter to the board of Covered California criticizing the decision to delay posting quality ratings for health plans participating in the state health insurance exchange, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Siders, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 10/22).
The Affordable Care Act requires states by 2016 to provide quality information for all plans participating in health insurance exchanges.
California previously was among several states that said they would implement a new quality rating system for health insurers this fall, two years earlier than required under the law.
However, California officials in August announced that they no longer planned to post the quality ratings early.
Peter Lee -- executive director of Covered California -- said that currently available insurer data are out of date and only cover plans that differ significantly from those that are offered through the exchange (California Healthline, 8/12).
Details of Letter
The letter was sent by:
- Kaiser Permanente;
- Sharp Health Plan; and
- Western Health Advantage.
The insurers wrote that "there has never been a compelling reason to deny [quality rating] information to consumers."
They noted that exchanges in three other states -- Colorado, Maryland and Oregon -- already display quality data (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 10/22).
"We strongly urge that the display of health plan quality ratings go forward as originally planned, in the interest of both transparency to consumers and fair competition among Covered California's plan partners," they wrote.
On Thursday, Covered California officials are expected to discuss the issue during a board meeting ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 10/22).
Update on Exchange Use
In related news, the number of unique visitors to the Covered California website decreased during the third week of open enrollment, while the number of calls to its call centers remained stable, U-T San Diego reports.
In the third week, there were:
- Fewer than 500,000 unique website visitors, compared with nearly one million in the first week of open enrollment; and
- About 45,000 calls to call centers, the same as in the second week of open enrollment and down from 59,003 calls in the first week.
Provider Directory Back Online
Meanwhile, a directory of health care providers associated with exchange plans has been re-released after being taken offline to fix inaccuracies and slow performance. The directory allows consumers to search for doctors by name or ZIP code.
A separate function allowing website visitors to search for providers by hospital or doctor group has not yet been re-launched on the site (Sisson, U-T San Diego, 10/22).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.