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AHCPR's CAHPS® project is developing surveys designed to help consumers choose the right health plan

In the fall of 1995, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research awarded three cooperative agreements to consortia headed by Research Triangle Institute, RAND Corporation, and Harvard Medical School to conduct the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans (CAHPS®) study. AHCPR and the CAHPS® consortia also have collaborated with the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) in this effort. A special supplement of Medical Care tells the story of this project. The goal of CAHPS® is to develop an integrated set of surveys and reports to consumers to help them select a health plan that meets the needs of their families.

The CAHPS® team has developed and tested surveys for a variety of populations and delivery systems, including adult and child versions for the commercially insured, adult and child versions for people covered by Medicaid managed care or Medicaid fee for service, and an adult version for Medicare managed care. The CAHPS® package of reporting products includes two versions of a poster and one brochure, a print guide, Compare Your Health Plan Choices, and a computer guide, "Decision Helper."

The CAHPS® grantees began working in early 1997 with four demonstration sites to implement the entire package. Three other demonstration sites geared up in 1998. In addition, there are more than 40 other adopters of CAHPS®, including purchasing coalitions, State Medicaid agencies, and private purchasers. HCFA has twice used CAHPS® to survey its Medicare beneficiaries in managed care, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will provide CAHPS® data to Federal employees in 1999. Additionally, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the CAHPS® team merged the CAHPS® survey and the NCQA Member Satisfaction Survey. The merged instrument was used this year by NCQA to survey consumers about health plans seeking accreditation from NCQA. Feedback from the demonstration sites indicates that the CAHPS® survey succeeds in covering the topics that are most important to sponsors and consumers, while keeping to a 15- to 20-minute consumer interview.

The papers included in the March 1999 special supplement to Medical Care 37(3) are listed here. Reprints of articles authored by AHCPR staff members are available from the AHCPR Clearinghouse, as noted. Consult a reference librarian for help in obtaining copies of other articles in this supplement.

  • Crofton, C., Lubalin, J.S., and Darby, C., "Foreword," pp. 1-9. Reprints (AHCPR Publication No. 99-R064) are available from AHCPR.
  • Brown, J.A., Nederend, S.E., Hays, R.D., and others, "Special issues in assessing care of Medicaid recipients," pp. 79-88.
  • Carman, K.L., Short, P.F., Farley, D.O., and others, "Epilogue: Early lessons from CAHPS® demonstrations and evaluations," pp. 97-116. Reprints (AHCPR Publication No. 99-R065) are available from AHCPR.
  • Fowler, F.J., Gallagher, P.M., and Nederend, S., "Comparing telephone and mail responses to the CAHPS® survey instrument," pp. 41-49.
  • Gallagher, P.M., Fowler, F.J., and Stringfellow, V.L., "Respondent selection by mail: Obtaining probability samples of health plan enrollees," pp. 50-58.
  • Harris-Kojetin, L.D., Fowler, F.J., Brown, J.A., and others, "The use of cognitive testing to develop and evaluate CAHPS® 1.0 core survey items," pp. 10. Reprints (AHCPR Publication No. 99-R066) are available from AHCPR.
  • Hays, R.D., Shaul, J.A., Williams, V.S., and others, "Psychometric properties of the CAHPS® 1.0 survey measures," pp. 22-31.
  • McGee, J., Kanouse, D.E., Sofaer, S., and others, "Making survey results easy to report to consumers: How reporting needs guided survey design in CAHPS®," pp. 32-40.
  • Schnaier, J.A., Sweeny, S.F., Williams, V.S., and others, "Special issues addressed in the CAHPS® survey of Medicare managed care beneficiaries," pp. 69-78. Reprints (AHCPR Publication No. 99-R066) are available from AHCPR.
  • Shaul, J.A., Fowler, F.J., Zaslavsky, A.M., and others, "The impact of having parents report about both their own and their children's experiences with health insurance plans," pp. 59-68.
  • Weidmer, B., Brown, J., and Garcia, L., "Translating the CAHPS® 1.0 survey instruments into Spanish," pp. 89-96.

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