CONTACT: STEVE MARAVETZ
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8037; fax (319) 335-8034
UI Public Policy Center to develop health plan consumer assessment
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Three projects under way at the University of Iowa
Public Policy Center will develop and distribute consumer satisfaction
guides comparing a variety of health care plans in the state. Data for
the first such scorecard has been gathered and will be distributed to state
employees in Polk County this fall.
"These projects are designed to provide consumers with ways of
comparing health care plans that go beyond simply comparing costs,"
said Peter Damiano, D.D.S., director of health policy research at the Public
Policy Center and associate professor in the UI College of Dentistry. "We
have gathered a variety of information about the overall level of consumer
satisfaction with each of eight care plans offered to state employees in
The consumer guides contain data gathered by the UI policy center from
4,450 surveys and interviews conducted since last February. Among the areas
compared are length of waits to see a doctor, the efficiency and helpfulness
of the health care providers, the courtesy and respect shown to patients,
their satisfaction with the level of care provided, their comfort level
with their doctor and other measures of consumer satisfaction.
"This is a work in progress," Damiano said. "We will
continue to survey these people so we can update these consumer guides
yearly and determine how effectively consumers use this information."
In addition to the state employees in Polk County, the UI researchers
are also examining Medicaid patients in the state to determine their satisfaction
with the health plans currently offered in Iowa. A third part of the project
will look at consumer satisfaction with health care plans offered to employees
of large private sector employers in the Des Moines area.
The policy center is collaborating in Iowa with the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services and the RAND Corporation to implement some
of the first-in-the-nation demonstrations of what are called Consumer Assessment
of Health Plans (CAHPS).
Damiano and the other members of the UI PPC team -- Betsy Momany, research
scientist, and Jean Willard, research associate -- collaborated with the
Iowa Department of Personnel, the Iowa Department of Human Services, and
the Community Health Purchasing Corporation on the CAHPS projects.
Damiano said the consumer guides are based on models developed at Harvard
University, at the Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina, and at
the RAND Corporation.
According to Charles A. Darby, CAHPS project officer, the project will
play an important role nationally in helping provide consumers with information
to help them make informed health care purchasing decisions.
"The demonstration and evaluation phase of the project, in which
the UI Public Policy Center is a critical participant, is pivotal to determining
how to refine and improve the CAHPS products and to assess their impact
on consumers as they make health plan choices," Darby said.