Health Policy

Effect of CAHPS performance information on health plan choices by Iowa Medicaid beneficiaries.

Farley, D.O.; Elliott, M.N.; Short, P.F.; Damiano, P.C.; Kanouse, D.E.; Hays, R.D.
2002 Sep


This evaluation tested if Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study (CAHPS) information on plan performance affected health plan choices by new beneficiaries in Iowa Medicaid. New cases entering Medicaid in selected counties during February through May 2000 were assigned randomly to experimental or control groups. The control group received standard Medicaid enrollment materials, and the experimental group received these materials plus a CAHPS report. We found that CAHPS information did not affect health plan choices by Iowa Medicaid beneficiaries, similar to previously reported findings for New Jersey Medicaid. However, it did affect plan choice in an earlier laboratory experiment. The value of this information may be limited to a subset of receptive consumers who actively study information received, even then only when (1) ratings of available plans differ greatly, (2) ratings differ from prior beliefs about plan quality, and (3) reports are easy to understand.