with the findings obtained with other focus groups, when asked about different ways in which information for health plan choice could be presented to them, participants stated an overwhelming preference for personal presentations, either as a group presentation with opportunities for questions afterward or as a personal counseling session. Other participants recommended that written material be used in conjunction with the presentations. There was some interest in telephone hotlines, videos, and computer models, but concern was expressed over the technological aspects of each of these media. When asked about information sources, respondents noted that input from friends and relatives was seen as highly credible, insurance plan representatives were not likely to be trustworthy, and impartial information sources, such as Consumer Reports, were viewed as credible sources.
Additional focus groups that may shed further light on communicating with Medicare beneficiaries about their health plan choices are planned. A series of Medicare focus groups will be conducted by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) in the course of a Commonwealth Foundation-funded project looking at consumer information. In addition, the teams of organizations funded under the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research's Consumer Assessments of Health Plans Study (CAHPS) are also planning to hold focus groups of adults (that may include Medicare beneficiaries) to look at the effectiveness of particular information strategies such as print materials and videos.
To date, most of the information distributed to Medicare beneficiaries by HCFA about health care choices and managed care has been in a print format. Federal information dissemination about Medicare health care options is tiered. Approximately