• Blue Shield of California has introduced a variable cost-sharing model under which patients pay either an additional $200 copayment or 10 percent of the hospital’s fee each time they are admitted to a hospital that is not on Blue Shield’s preferred list. Blue Shield rates hospitals on the basis of measures of quality, safety, patient satisfaction, and efficiency (Freudenheim, 2002)

  • General Motors’ value-based purchasing approach rates health plans according to their performance on various clinical quality measures, patient satisfaction measures, NCQA accreditation results, and cost-effectiveness measures, and adjusts employee out-of-pocket contributions so that those choosing the best-ranked plans have the lowest contributions (Salber and Bradley, 2001).

It may be hoped that much more will be known about the impact of various financial and non-financial incentive models in the near future. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (National Health Care Purchasing Institute, 2002) has recently announced an initiative entitled “Rewarding Results,” which will provide support for payment demonstrations that reward improvements in quality. This initiative is being evaluated under an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality contract.

Program Design and Administration

Benefits coverage and payment methods are among the most important design features of the six government health care programs reviewed in this report, but they are not the only ones that influence the likelihood of patients receiving high-quality care. Other important features include delivery system and provider choices, fluctuations in eligibility and delivery system options, and administrative efficiency.

In some government health care programs, consumers have multiple options in terms of delivery system and choice of providers, while in others the options are more limited. Under Medicare, 87 percent of beneficiaries have chosen to enroll in FFS arrangements, which provide extensive choice of clinicians and hospitals. Most Medicare beneficiaries who live in metropolitan areas also have the option of enrolling in Medicare+Choice plans, enrollment that historically has been associated with enhanced benefits for little or no additional out-of-pocket expense. Enrollment in managed care is mandatory for the majority of the Medicaid population in most states, and in some instances, there is little or no choice of plan. DOD TRICARE, the VHA, and IHS programs are all structured to encourage, and in some cases require, use of their own health care delivery systems, which are similar to group or staff-model health plans.

Studies of the clinical quality (in terms of both medical care processes and patient outcomes) in managed care and indemnity settings consis-

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