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AHRQ Releases First Annual Report on New National Database Comparing Results of CAHPS® Surveys

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Press Release Date: October 23, 2001

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today announced the release of the first annual report of the National CAHPS® Benchmarking Database (NCBD), marking the first time that data about consumer assessments of their medical care have been available in one place for Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial (employer-sponsored) health plans for use by purchasers, health plans and policy makers.

Among the key findings:

  • Overall, managed care enrollees rate their health care highly and report positive experiences with their providers and staff.
  • Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial enrollees rate their care differently, with Medicare enrollees reporting the most positive experiences.
  • Although consumers typically rate their health plans very high, the percentage of consumers who rated their plans very high in the CAHPS® survey varied between 16 and 74 percent.

CAHPS® is a set of survey and reporting tools, developed through research sponsored by AHRQ, designed to measure consumers' experience with health plans and report that experience back to other consumers and purchasers to help them choose among health plans. CAHPS® data were confidentially submitted to the NCBD by participating sponsors from the commercial, Medicaid, and Medicare sectors who had used the CAHPS® survey tools. The NCBD currently consists of three years of CAHPS® survey results.

Variations in quality as shown in the NCBD annual report underline the importance of using this type of information for choosing health plans. Purchaser sponsors can use the NCBD data tables in the annual report to evaluate health plan performance by comparing local market or statewide plan performance with national averages and benchmarks for the plans included in the NCBD. Health plan sponsors can use the NCBD comparative data for internal management review and to identify target areas and opportunities for improving performance. Other sponsors can incorporate NCBD data into public reports in order to educate and inform consumers, policy makers, and other audiences about overall plan performance in the context of a national experience.

The availability of the NCBD data also is important to AHRQ efforts to provide a national picture of quality health care in the United States. It represents one of the types of resources that AHRQ will draw upon for the National Health Care Quality Report, which will be published for the first time in 2003.

For more information about CAHPS® or accessing NCBD data, call the CAHPS® Help Line at 1-800-492-9261, or E-mail The CAHPS® products and the NCBD Annual Report are available free of charge by contacting the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295, or E-mail

For additional information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs, (301) 427-1364: Karen Carp, (301) 427-1858 (


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