Health Plans Try to Boost Their Grades on Plan Report Cards

This 1996–1998 project, conducted by Jinnet B. Fowles, PhD, and researchers at the Institute for Research and Education in Minneapolis, evaluated how consumer-based reports cards affect institutional behavior in the health care market.

Staff designed the project to complement work currently underway to evaluate the impact of consumer information on consumer choice.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO).

Key Findings

  • Researchers reported the following in a Findings Brief available on the HCFO website.

    • Within four years, the report card initiative had affected all five plans, albeit to differing degrees and with different specific changes.
    • Health plans cited the report card initiative as an incentive to direct attention toward quality improvement.
    • The health plans demonstrated a much stronger response to the report card initiative than did consumers.
    • Collecting and disseminating data on health plans is very costly, leading some in the field to question these expenditures, given the apparent lack of consumer interest.