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AHRQ releases first annual report on new CAHPS® database

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released 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. These data can be used by purchasers, health plans and policymakers in making health plan choices. Some of the key findings discussed in the report are:

  • 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, that are designed to measure consumers' experiences with health plans and report those experiences 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. Currently, the NCBD consists of 3 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 State-wide 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, policymakers, 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. The NCBD is one of the resources that AHRQ will draw upon for the National Health Care Quality Report, which will be published for the first time in 2003.

Copies of the Annual Report of the National CAHPS® Benchmarking Database 2000 (AHRQ Publication No. 01-0005) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

To find out more about ongoing NCBD activities, visit the NCBD Web page.

For more information about CAHPS® or accessing NCBD data, call the CAHPS® Help Line at 1-800-492-9261 or send an E-mail to

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