Congress can talk about protecting patients by giving them more information about their managed-care plans and interest groups can agitate, but patients and employers don't even use the data they get now.
Despite all the quality information being collected from providers and health plans, most employers do not use it to choose health plans or pass it along to their employees.
Those are the findings of two studies released last week by the New York-based Commonwealth Fund. A survey of 1,502 firms with more than 200 employees discovered that only 9% of firms offering managed-care plans required plans to be accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Only 6% of companies use the national Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set, or HEDIS, to help select managed-care plans, and only 1% of companies provide HEDIS data to their employees.
"If HMOs knew that quality counted to those making healthcare purchasing decisions, they would be more likely to focus on improving quality of care, rather than emphasizing reduced utilization of services and lower premiums," said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund.