Methods to Present Quality Information to Assist Consumers to Make Health Plan Decisions

How can information on health plan quality be most effectively presented to consumers? Researchers at the University of Oregon used laboratory studies to examine how consumers process and integrate information in making choices about health plan. While there are many health plan "report cards" available to consumers, little is known about how consumers actually use the information they are given to make decisions. Consumers in a cognitive laboratory situation were presented with different types of information on health plan quality, in different formats, and asked about how they use the information in their decision-making process. The researchers also assessed how specific pieces of information are used and weighted in decisions. The objective of the study was to help determine how best to present information on health plan quality so that it is valued and understood by consumers, and so that consumers can make the maximum use of information on quality when choosing a health plan.