Amid a spate of HMO consumer satisfaction surveys released recently by various publications, Consumer Reports has weighed in with its own.
In its August issue, the magazine rates 37 of the nation's largest HMOs based on a survey of more than 20,000 of its subscribers.
In general, most subscribers were satisfied with their plans, the magazine found, although they were most satisfied with not-for-profit plans.
The top 12 HMOs in the survey-with overall satisfaction scores ranging from 77 to 82 on a scale of 100-were all not-for-profit.
They were Blue Cross and Blue Shield of the Rochester (N.Y.) Area; Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Norwell, Mass; Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Seattle; Harvard Community Health Plan, Wellesley, Mass.; Independent Health, Tarrytown, N.Y.; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in the Colorado, Southern California, Northwest, Northern California and Mid-Atlantic regions; Allina Health System in Minneapolis; and Tufts Associated Health Plans, Waltham, Mass.
Consumer Reports, like other organizations that have surveyed HMOs, had difficulty with official measures, such as accreditation from the National Committee on Quality Assurance. Among the top five plans in the survey, only two had received full NCQA accreditation. One was denied accreditation, one was not accredited and one received provisional accreditation.
The magazine also complained about inconsistent and inadequate Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set, or HEDIS, data used by the NCQA, HMOs and purchasers to measure quality.
Consumer Reports said its subscribers are "a relatively affluent and educated cross-section of the U.S. population. The vast majority were in good health at the time they completed the survey."