Report cards make consumers' opinions about insurers public

The five insurers operating Medicaid managed care plans in Ohio scored only an "average" rating when it came to how satisfied their members were with their doctors, according to a new report card from the state.

The report card, which is based on patient surveys and state-collected data, is the state's latest effort to provide more transparent information to help consumers choose an insurer. Consumers could find out, for example, that CareSource offers its members the best access to healthcare while Molina Healthcare offers comprehensive prenatal and other women's health services.

"The idea was to present individuals, when they have to pick a managed-care plan, some kind of data so they can select a plan," Ohio Medicaid Director John McCarthy told the Columbus Dispatch. "It's our first attempt at transparency and creates some healthy competition" among plans.

McCarthy explained that the five insurers--Buckeye Health Plan, CareSource, Molina Healthcare, Paramount Advantage and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan--are rated based on comparisons with each another so that none of the plans could receive either perfect scores or the lowest scores.

Most of the Medicaid insurers operating in Ohio support the transparency. Steve Ringel, CareSource's president for the Ohio market, said that "consumerism in healthcare is much overdue. Medicaid is not one that has had this kind of information available to consumers."

And Tracy Davidson, chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Ohio, said the company does "often hear there is a need for information that helps people make informed choices on managed care."

Connecticut has also made moves to increase transparency among health insurers, as a new law requires insurers to submit pricing and reimbursement information to both the state and to consumers, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Massachusetts has similar regulations, though advocates note that the state's health plans could provide clearer information to consumers.

To learn more:
- here's the report card
- read the Columbus Dispatch article