Value Judgment: Helping Health Care Consumers Use Quality and Cost Information

Jennifer Lenz, Alana Burke, and Karen Onstad of the National Committee for Quality Assurance

Access to information about value — the combination of cost and quality — can help health care consumers make better-informed choices among health plans and providers.

December 2012

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) directs states to set up exchanges where consumers can purchase health insurance. These exchanges are required by law to present information on value, including quality results and costs, to inform consumers in their purchasing decisions.

This issue brief presents findings from a series of focus groups that examined how to engage consumers in thinking about value — cost plus quality — in health care. The aim of this project was to determine whether consumers could understand data on health care value and use that information to make health care choices.

Focus group findings:

  • Health care value data — data on both quality and cost — can be useful and actionable for consumers, but the data must be accompanied by succinct education efforts.
  • Presentations of value data must confront and debunk the commonly held belief that there is an inherent trade-off between cost and quality.
  • Clear, easy-to-understand data must demonstrate that high-quality, low-cost health care exists as a viable choice for consumers.

Many consumers are interested in using health care value information to help them make health care purchasing decisions. Uninsured consumers are particularly interested in this information, and providing it in a forum such as the California Health Benefit Exchange may help them make informed decisions.

The complete report is available as a Document Download. The video below is of a January 16 webinar on the research findings, presented by Phyllis Torda, vice president, Strategic and Quality Solutions Group, and Jennifer Lenz, assistant vice president, Quality Solutions Group, of NCQA.