Filed Under:Markets, Employee Benefits

Exchanges, QHPs can keep 2015 enrollee grades to themselves

HHS will not publish the first exchange plan satisfaction scores itself.
HHS will not publish the first exchange plan satisfaction scores itself.

Public health insurance exchanges and issuers of "qualified health plan" (QHP) coverage can decide for themselves whether to release their first batch of official federal enrollee experience survey results.

Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mention the agency's enrollee survey data release schedule in a new QHP enrollee survey website established at https://qhpcahps.cms.gov.

See also: Survey: Higher-income consumers less happy with PPACA plans

CMS and its parent, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), set the rules for the survey in a batch of final regulations released in May. CMS decided to call the survey a QHP "enrollee experience survey," rather than an "enrollee satisfaction survey," because one commenter said "experience" seems to be a more objective term than satisfaction.

CMS wants vendors to conduct a round of beta test surveys from January 2015 through April 2015. CMS will send the results from the beta test surveys to the exchanges and QHPs.

The exchanges and QHPs can do what they want with the data, but HHS has no plans to post it publicly, officials said in the preamble to the final regulations. Some commenters wanted CMS to make the first batch of survey results confidential. CMS officials said they decided to let exchanges and QHP issuers publish the results if they want, because of a belief that access to the beta test results might provide important early feedback for exchanges and consumers.

CMS is starting by having one vendor do a psychometric test of the survey this year, to see if a sample of 4,200 consumers can understand the survey and get through it quickly. 

In 2015, CMS wants to have 40 vendors of its own conducting surveys. The agency expects each QHP issuer to pay for a satisfaction survey of its own.

In 2016, HHS plans to start publishing the enrollee survey results itself. HHS may also get enrollee satisfaction survey data for off-exchange plans.

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