California To Help Consumers Compare Health Insurance Plans

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The California Department of Insuranceon Monday announced a new health care report card program for six ofthe state's largest preferred provider organizations as part of aneffort to help consumers compare health plans, the Los Angeles Timesreports. State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said the reportcards will measure how physicians in each PPO network followbest-practices guidelines, including providing childhood immunizationsand giving at-risk patients regular cancer screenings. Physicians alsowill be rated based on patient satisfaction surveys. In addition, thereport cards might include clinical outcomes, which could helpdetermine how well physicians are improving care.

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Poizner saiddetails of the new reporting program were being finalized. He addedthat the program was the first in a series of measures he plans to taketo increase oversight of the health insurance industry. Theparticipating insurers are Aetna; Blue Shield of California; Cigna; Health Net; WellPoint; and UnitedHealth Group.

William Shernoff of Shernoff, Bidart & Darras,which specializes in consumer insurance lawsuits, said, "We welcome anyinvolvement on the part of the state to monitor the insurance industrymore aggressively, which is something it has long failed to do."However, Shernoff added that the program "is like a Band-Aid that won'tdo anything about problems like insurers denying care or pullingpeople's coverage for no reason" (Costello, Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
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