During the last few weeks of this year, most of us will need to make a decision about our health insurance coverage for 2015, regardless of whether we get it through an employer or buy it on our own. But unless you live in California, chances are you won’t find much information about how satisfied people are with their existing health plans or how many complaints are filed against them.
Now that the law requires us to have health insurance — and buy it from a private insurer unless we’re eligible for a government program like Medicare or Medicaid — you’d think it would be easy to discover which health plans rank the best and which ones bring up the rear.
There are some online resources to find out how much various plans would cost in monthly premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. If you can’t get coverage at work and want to compare costs among competing health plans, you can go to healthcare.gov, maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or a private online source like healthinsurance.org, which has been around since 1994.
But finding customer satisfaction and clinical performance information and complaint ratios is a lot more difficult.
California is the only state I know of where you can find data on both, but it’s not likely that even many Golden Staters understand how to discover it or go to the trouble of seeking it out.
Back in 2000 when Democrat Gray Davis was governor, California began operating an agency called the Office of The Patient Advocate (OPA). According to its website, OPA was created “to help health plan members get the care they deserve and to promote transparency and quality health care” by publishing an annual “Quality of Care Report Card.” The most recent report card was released last Wednesday.
If you’re a Californian and care as much about good customer service as you do about how much you’ll have to pay for coverage, you’ll choose one of the nonprofit health plans, regardless of where you live in the state, after spending a few minutes on the OPA site.