State Unveils Health Plan Report Cards

On Wednesday, the state released its annual report cards that rate health plans and medical groups for consumers.

“This is a pretty big day for us,” said Beth Abbott, the new director of the Office of the Patient Advocate, which puts out the report cards. She said each year the report cards increase in usage, stature and consumer visibility.

“It’s a wonderful tool for consumers who have to make a choice about a health plan,” Abbott said.

Health officials estimate 95% of Californians getting health insurance through their employers — about 16 million people — are faced with a choice of insurers.

California HHS Secretary Diana Dooley said it’s no accident that the consumer resource is coming out in advance of the second open enrollment period for Covered California, which starts Nov. 15.

“I’m particularly pleased that our health care quality report card has been moved up to align with open enrollment,” Dooley said. Whether consumer health insurance is through the exchange or through employers, she said, “I hope consumers will find these to be useful in choosing a plan for themselves and their families.”

There are three report cards posted on the state site — for HMOs, PPOs and medical groups. There are also links to comparison sites for Medi-Cal, Medicare physician groups, hospitals and long-term care and CalPERS.

For younger Californians, being able to compare health plans and medical groups online is essential, according to Linda Leu, policy and research director for Young Invincibles, a not-for-profit that promotes health care coverage for young people.

“As the first generation to grow up with the Internet, it’s an important driver for us,” Leu said. “Right now young people are more comfortable comparing restaurants than comparing health plans, but I think this will help young people shop for health care.”

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