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Consumer Reports: Selecting Health Care Coverage

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(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Jon Delano Jon Delano
Jon Delano is a familiar face on KDKA-TV, having been the station's...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — This is the time of year when many organizations ask employees to pick their health insurance for 2013.

“At work we have a lot of different options, so we’ve been comparing the different ones and the prices,” says Josh Hathaway of Ross Township.

But it’s not easy to compare health plans — although Consumer Reports says a new requirement of Obamacare may help.

“For the first time, every plan will have a form that looks exactly the same which will make it much easier to compare them side by side,” notes Nancy Metcalf of Consumer Reports.

Another help — Consumer Reports has analyzed 984 private, Medicare, and Medicaid health-insurance plans ranked by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, or NCQA, a nonprofit accreditation group.

“It does provide you with an idea of how well they over all these measures that have to do with quality and member satisfaction,” says Dr. Stephen Perkins, UPMC Health Plan’s vice president of medical affairs.

For working people insured through their employers, UPMC Health Plan is ranked No. 1 in the region (16th nationally) — with Highmark’s Keystone Health Plan West scoring just a point less as No. 2 in the region (32nd nationally). Other insurers like Aetna trail behind.

“Always good news, always good news,” says Dr. Perkins.

UPMC Health Plan is pleased to be No. 1, but Highmark says it’s close.

“I don’t think these are statistically significant differences. I think that we’re in the same ballpark by these measurements,” says Dr. Don Fischer, Highmark’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.

But in choosing your health insurance for the coming year, some things may be more important than these ratings. How about cost? Or maybe your personal relationships with certain doctors?

“There’s lots of things that ultimately will lead one to make a decision about the plan they would choose,” notes Dr. Fischer.

And many just stick with the plan they’ve got.

“What makes me happy is that I get pretty timely service and the cost is affordable,” says Rosemary Akers of Oakland who is sticking with her current plan.

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