National names missing in top-ranked Pa. health plans

    New rankings of private insurance plans were released Tuesday in the November edition of Consumer Reports.

    Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor, said the analysis shows that when it comes to insurance, bigger does not always equal better.

    “Unlike shopping for a lot of other things, where a national brand should be your guide, that’s not the case with health plans,” Metcalf said. “In broad brush, the big health plans like United Health Care, or Aetna or Humana are not necessarily the best.”

    Pennsylvania is a prime example–the top three plans in both the HMO and PPO categories were offered by Geisinger, based in central Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

    Metcalf said, like a lot of other things in health care, the quality of insurance plan you can get depends a lot on where you live.

    “The top-ranked plan in Delaware is Blue Cross Blue Shield which is 102 among 390 ranked private plans, still pretty good,” Metcalf said. But “Geisinger is number 8. That’s really amazingly good.”

    Of all the private plans with the top score for customer satisfaction, 15 percent were HMO’s, while six percent were PPO’s.

    Metcalf said to look beyond co-payments and premiums when shopping for insurance or choosing the right option offered by your employer. Consider as well if health savings plans are offered, and look out for high-deductibles plans.

    Rankings are available online, and can be searched to find the best-ranked plans for certain health conditions.

    The rankings include companies that voluntarily submit data to the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a nonprofit that, for a fee, accredits plans that cover about 100 million Americans.

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