TEXAS HMOs: Survey Reveals General Satisfaction
Although "North Texans remain generally satisfied with their health maintenance organizations," a survey released yesterday indicates that seven area HMOs have slipped slightly in their customer approval ratings and services provided. The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports that the North Central Texas Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS) Coalition compared this year's results with last year's for seven HMOs: Aetna U.S. Healthcare of North Texas; Cigna HealthCare of Texas, North Texas division; Harris Methodist Health Plan; HMO Blue, Northeast Texas; Kaiser Permanente Southwest Division; NYLCare Health Plans of the Southwest; and Prudential Healthcare-North Texas. One area in which the HMOs slipped is immunizations; although the national goal is to immunize 90% of the nation's 2-year-olds by the year 2000, the seven HMOs immunized only 60.4% of enrolled 2 year-olds this year, slipping from 71.3% in 1996. Despite the "lost ground on immunizations," Scott Groussman, president of the survey's auditing firm, Catalyst Technologies, said, "On a whole, the population has been fairly well served, and they're satisfied with the care that is being rendered." Patricia Zuercher, executive director of the HEDIS coalition, attributes the declining approval ratings to news coverage of health care issues. "You see so much bad press about HMOs," she said.
The Numbers, Please
When plan members were asked to rate their HMOs on a scale of 1 ("completely satisfied") to 7 ("completely dissatisfied"), the HMOs averaged 2.79, compared to a 2.65 rating in 1996. Of the seven plans, Cigna had the highest rating at 2.53, while Aetna U.S. Healthcare brought up the rear with a 3.18 rating. Aetna spokesperson Jill Griffiths emphasized that "the HMO is committed to quality standards. She said Aetna's surveys indicate that about 80% of its members rate the plan as good, very good or excellent." The report revealed a wide range in the number of hysterectomies performed per 1,000 women. Although the plans averaged 9.2, Cigna reported 11.3 and Kaiser reported 5.3. The analysis also found that "the length of hospital stays shortened over the past four years" -- the average of 251 days per 1,000 members in 1994 dropped to 173.3 days per 1,000 in 1997 (Lunday, 8/26).