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PPO health care report cards to allow comparisons

HealthDecisions.org reports that the California Department of Insurance plans to announce a new “healthcare report card” program for six of the state’s largest preferred provider organization (PPOs). The reports will include information on quality of care and patient satisfaction so that consumers can compare plans, and will begin in early 2009.

Similar data already are available for health maintenance organizations (HMOs) but those reporting guides have not included the two-thirds of insured people who are covered by PPO health plans. PPO plans provide members who visit out-of-network doctors and hospitals a discount off the regular rates.

The report cards will assess how well doctors in each insurance network follow best-practices guidelines, such as providing childhood immunizations and giving at-risk patients regular cancer screenings, and how well they rate on patient satisfaction surveys. The report cards may also include clinical outcomes, including patient blood pressure averages and sugar levels in diabetics.

Participating providers are Aetna Inc., Blue Shield of California, Cigna Corp., Health Net Inc., WellPoint Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc.