A new nationally representative survey of employers finds that most companies that offer health insurance are unfamiliar with objective data and ratings of health plan quality.

Only 7 percent of employers who offer health insurance use objective quality information; 89 percent do not use or are unfamiliar with any of the objective sources tested by the survey.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the survey measured the extent to which employers are familiar with Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) scores; eValue8 data from the National Business Coalition on Health (which includes performance reports that allow business participants to assess health care plans); and Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) data.

While 60 percent of the surveyed employers said that quality ratings are important when choosing a health plan, the percentage of those who actually knew where to get that information was extremely low: Only 4 percent said they used HEDIS or CAHPS scores, with more than 60 percent saying they were not familiar with either. Only 1 percent used eValue8 data.

Thirty-six percent said they used quality data supplied directly by the health plan, and only 24 percent said they used information from other sources, such as brokers or consultants, references from other employers, employee feedback, or self-conducted research.

“Over the last decade, we have taken giant steps forward in our ability to measure and report on healthcare quality,” said Anne Weiss, who leads efforts to increase healthcare value at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This poll highlights the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done to educate employers on how to get the most bang for their buck.”

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