NCQA releases health plan rankings

Health plans continue to have wide variances in measures of clinical and patient satisfaction, according to data released in the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) 1998 Quality Compass Report.

On the average, New England’s health plans continue to outperform other plans in the country when ranked in terms of member satisfaction and clinical quality measures reported to NCQA’s Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS) in 1997. New England plans as a group typically performed between 10 and 40 percentage points higher than plans from the lowest performing region on each measure, NCQA reports.

The worst performing were in South Central states, such as Alabama, Lousiana, Mississippi and Texas, and mountain states such as Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming.

The gap between top and bottom performing plans is evident in measures such as beta blocker treatment rates, which range from 52% to 92%, according to the Quality Compass report. The report includes data from 292 health plans that voluntarily submitted information. These plans collectively cover 40 million people.

Trends that emerged from the report include:

The industry’s overall performance was essentially unchanged from 1996 to 1997, with the exception of one measure: how frequently physicians advised patients to quit smoking (up from 61% to 64%).

Plans that reported performance data two years in a row improved more quickly and outperformed the industry as a whole.

Publicly-reporting health plans outperformed plans that were unwilling to make their results public in every category of measurement.

For a copy of the report, contact NCQA at (202) 955-5197.