Similarities and Differences in Choosing Health Plans

Published in: Medical Care, v. 40, no. 4, Apr. 2002, p. 289-302

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2001

by Pamela Farley Short, Lauren McCormack, Judith Hibbard, James Shaul, Lauren Harris-Kojetin, Michael H. Fox, Peter Damiano, Jennifer Uhrig, Paul Cleary

Read More

Access further information on this document at www.lww-medicalcare.com

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

BACKGROUND: Increasingly, consumers have multiple health insurance options. New information is being developed to help consumers with these choices. OBJECTIVES: To study similarities and differences in how the publicly and privately insured choose health plans. To explore the effect of traditional enrollment materials and reports developed by the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study (CAHPS) on consumer's perceptions and decision-making. RESEARCH DESIGN: Using data from eight CAHPS demonstrations, the authors tested for significant differences across consumers with employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare. SUBJECTS: Approximately 10,000 consumers with employer-sponsored, Medicaid, and Medicare health plans. MEASURES: Perceptions of the health plan selection process, use of information sources, and reactions to and use of traditional enrollment materials and CAHPS reports. RESULTS: Most consumers with all types of insurance thought that choosing a health plan was important and obtained information from multiple sources. Choosing a plan was more difficult for Medicare and Medicaid recipients than for the privately insured. When choosing a plan, Medicaid recipients cared most about convenience and access, whereas the privately insured emphasized providers and costs. The percentage of consumers who looked at and remembered the CAHPS report varied widely from 24% to 77%. In all but one of the demonstration sites, most consumers spent less than 30 minutes looking at the CAHPS report. CONCLUSIONS: Group sponsors and the developers of information interventions such as CAHPS may need to invest in developing and testing different reporting approaches for Medicare, Medicaid, and privately insured consumers.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.