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Next-Generation Plan Choice Tool Helps Consumers Identify "Best Fit" Health Plan Option

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San Francisco, CA, May 7, 2002 - In a major advance in online decision- making support, a new interactive plan choice tool (http://chooser.pacadvantage.org/) helps consumers identify the health plan option that most suits their needs. Developed by the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), the state-of-the-art tool integrates a vast array of information about benefits, rates, providers and quality into a single selection tool—and gives consumers control of the decision-making process.

Debuting as PacPlan Chooser, the cutting-edge tool is now available to enrollees in Pacific Health Advantage (PacAdvantage), the small group purchasing pool affiliated with PBGH. It is the most advanced and comprehensive health plan choice tool ever offered to small business employees. PBGH, a non-profit coalition of large health care purchasers, intends to offer the tool to its members later this year.

Especially in an era of escalating prices, consumers need the ability to weigh the affordability of their health care options. PacAdvantage enrollees, faced with more than a dozen health plan options (depending on where they live), each with varying costs, physicians and quality ratings, can get lost in the detail. But with PacPlan Chooser, they can quickly identify options that are affordable, have the right doctors, and meet personal criteria.

"Most health care consumers are clear about what they want in a plan," said John Grgurina, executive director of PacAdvantage. "They have their priorities for price, physician choice, benefit design, plan rules and so on. What's missing is an easy way to put all this together—that's where PacPlan Chooser comes in. It's the first plan choice tool that allows you to systematically identify affordable health plans, make sure they include your doctor, rate them in many ways, and remove poor fits from your list as you go along."

To use the tool, a PacAdvantage member goes to PacAdvantage.org. The member completes several questions about insurance needs and chooses a profile that matches expected upcoming medical care needs.

On the next screen, the user sees a comprehensive list of health plan options ranked by the estimated total, annual employee cost (premium and out-of-pocket). Users can remove unaffordable options from the list and rank the remainder as good fit, so-so fit and poor fit, given their budget.

At this point, users decide which other aspects of choosing a plan they wish to investigate, including Doctors in Plan, Quality Ratings, Plan Rules and Covered Services.

The user rates or removes plans on the features that are of interest—whether it's judging the plan's roster of doctors, performance on caring for people with a chronic illness such as diabetes, or coverage for key services. Users can see the plans their doctor belongs to with a quick search by doctor name. A scan of the Plan Rules tells users if they need an "ok" to see a specialist. Users can compare plan quality ratings for topics ranging from preventive health to customer service. At any time, they can view the Results page, which displays all the ratings they have made so far, and rank-order the plans by any feature.

With each round of ratings, the user comes closer to identifying the options uniquely suited to his or her needs.

"For increasingly complex health care choices, this tool represents the next generation of consumer decision-support tools," said Grgurina. "The final list of 'good fits' will be unique to the individual user because no two consumers are alike. We each have our personal values that should shape our choice. The beauty of the PacPlan Chooser is that it respects this and builds on it."

Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), a major non-profit coalition of 48 purchasers, is dedicated to improving health care quality and availability while moderating cost. Its members annually spend nearly $4 billion to provide health coverage to approximately 3 million employees, retirees and their families. PBGH seeks to promote health plan and provider accountability and to provide consumers with standardized, comparable data to make the best health care decisions at all levels of care. PBGH also operates PacAdvantage, a small group purchasing pool providing health insurance to 147,000 employees and their families in more than 11,000 small employer groups in California. For more information on PacAdvantage and the PacPlan Chooser, contact PacAdvantage at 1-877-472-2238 or www.pacadvantage.org.

Contact:
Clark Miller
Senior Communications Manager
Pacific Business Group on Health
Telephone: (415) 615–6302
E–mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
 

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