Kaiser, integrated systems top NCQA rankings

Big-name, for-profit insurance companies didn't fare well in a national analysis of health plans by the National Committee of Quality Assurance (NCQA), but integrated health systems and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan were winners.

Published in the September issue of Consumer Reports, the rankings scored health plans based on consumer satisfaction; preventive services such as pre-natal care, cancer screenings and immunizations; treatment for certain conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and mental illness; and NCQA accreditation status.

Major insurers, including UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Humana, sat more frequently among the bottom 100 plans on the list, reported KOMO News.

Also noteworthy, the 10 best health plans were nonprofits, meaning they don't have to please investors and instead can focus on pleasing their members. Coming in as the best private health plan is Harvard Pilgrim Health Care's HMO. Chief Executive Eric Schultz attributed his company's high rating to the "quality of our clinical programs and our extraordinary customer service." Another Massachusetts insurer, Tufts Health Plan, had two health plans ranked in the top five,The Boston Globe reported.

Five of the top 10 plans were integrated health systems--Capital Health Plan in Florida, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, and Kaiser Foundation Health Plans in Colorado, Northern California and Southern California--that provide insurance, as well as employ doctors and/or own hospitals. These integrated plans performed well in the NCQA analysis because they keep their customers healthy and avoid wasteful care, Consumer Reports noted.

Overall, Kaiser had the most high-ranking plans among major private insurers, with 75 percent of its private plans in the top 25 percent.

NCQA also found that the quality of healthcare increased since last year, as private HMOs improved in 23 of the 32 clinical performance measures it analyzed. More members have received recommended tests, including colorectal cancer screenings and blood sugar tests. Consumers also are rating private health plans higher, with seven indicators of consumer satisfaction improving since 2007.

To learn more:
- here are the NCQA rankings
- check out the Consumer Reports analysis
- read the KOMO News article
- see the Boston Globe article

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