Few employers review health plan quality. Why should they?

September 7, 2010

Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog reports some findings from a Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research and Educational Trust  survey:

Just 34% of firms employing at least 200 people and 5% of firms employing between 3 and 199 people reported reviewing performance indicators of plans’ clinical and service quality.

I can think of a few reasons:

  • Coverage is so costly that the decision is really mainly about what’s affordable and palatable. More emphasis is given to total cost and how to split the cost with employees than to plan quality
  • The plan quality measures are not that well developed or clearly reported
  • Differences among plans are fairly modest and not necessarily captured by the measures
  • There is a bigger interest in provider quality than plan quality

2 thoughts on “Few employers review health plan quality. Why should they?”

  1. David, your short list covers a lot of the “why not quality?” ground. I’d mainly suggest a change in the order (acknowledging you never claimed to be weighting your entries 😉 ) thus: 2, 4, 3, 1.

    Employers who want to do a businesslike job of managing their resources (most employers) want to do it with regard to healthcare just as much as they do with regard to product inputs or customer service commitments – other aspects of managing their business like long-term owners.

    In short, they prefer to invest in health results rather than spend based on crude unit cost comparisons.

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