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Annual health insurance report says more money doesn't equal better care Posted: October 15th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Now in its 14th year, the annual State of Health Care Quality report from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is challenging conventional wisdom. As the federal government prepares to mandate that health insurance companies spend 80-85 cents of every premium dollar on health care services, the NCQA report states that health plans that spend the most on patient care don't always offer the best quality of care.

That finding comes from the report's analysis of Relative Resource Use (RRU). The NCQA made its calculations after reviewing data from more than 1,000 health plans and then looking at resource use for five chronic illnesses:

  • Asthma
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • COPD
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension

The RRU analysis discovered that quantity care did not equal quality care. Health plans using an above-average level of resources often delivered care that was rated below-average.

In other findings, the survey reported that parents with private health insurance were increasingly skipping vaccinations for their children. Immunization rates for children on private health plans dropped by approximately 4 percent in 2009, a trend the NCQA attributes to growing concerns that autism is linked to childhood vaccinations. The association states that there is no medical evidence to support such a link.