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California issues annual ratings for health plans, physician groups

March 27, 2013|By Chad Terhune
  • California's annual report card on major health plans and medical groups looks at patient care and customer satisfaction.
California's annual report card on major health plans and medical… (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles…)

Kaiser Permanente was the only HMO to earn a top four-star rating for providing recommended care on California's annual report card, while Cigna and UnitedHealthcare led the way with three-star ratings among PPO plans.

The report issued Wednesday on California's biggest HMOs and other health insurance plans showed improvement in care for children, but mixed results for treating adults with chronic medical conditions.

These quality ratings and patient satisfaction scores focus on California's 10 largest HMOs, six biggest preferred-provider organization plans and 209 medical groups covering about 16 million consumers.

The report card is available at the Office of the Patient Advocate's website.

State officials said health insurers and physicians are making strides in giving children their immunizations, checking them for excess body fat and avoiding the overuse of antibiotics for throat infections.

But the quality of treatment for patients suffering from diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions varied widely among insurers and physician groups, according to the state.

Many HMO patients expressed frustration at "getting care easily." On that measure, seven HMOs including Kaiser's Southern California system were rated poor, or just one star.

Consumers can also use the report card to check physician groups by name or county.

In the Los Angeles area, the medical groups of UCLA, Cedars-Sinai and HealthCare Partners all received three out of four stars on providing the recommended care.

"The report cards are a great resource for moms, dads, family caregivers and people who strive to get healthier and make informed choices about their healthcare," said Diana Dooley, secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency.

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