Doctor rankings may be on way out in N.Y.

John O'Brien Oct. 19, 2007, 2:00pm


NEW YORK - In letters to three health care providers, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Thursday asked for the end of doctor-ranking programs.

Cuomo says the programs, which the three insurers offer to policyholders as a means of finding the best physician, are potentially deceptive and possibly not in consumers' best financial interests.

"Consumers need to be aware that doctor-ranking programs, as currently designed, may steer patients to the cheapest, but not necessarily the best doctors, letting profits trump quality," Cuomo said. "Transparency and accurate information are critical when making health care decisions and should not be clouded by conflicts of interest."

Cuomo sent letters to Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Preferred Care and HIP Health Plan/GHI, all New York-based. Blue Cross Blue Shield has more than 500,000 customers in the state, while Preferred Care has around 185,188.

The letters are in line with others sent to UnitedHealthcare, Aetna Health Plan and Cigna. Cuomo says discussions with those providers are ongoing.

According to a Reuters report, Blue Cross Blue Shield said its ranking system, Blue Precision, has not even started in New York yet.

"While we strongly believe consumers, government and labor paying for health care have every right to both quality and cost information, health care is local and therefore we will not initiate release of such data until we are comfortable that we have appropriately addressed questions raised by stakeholders," spokesperson Lisa Grenier said, according to the report.

To read the letter sent to Blue Cross Blue Shield, click here. For Preferred Care's, click here, and for HIP's click here.

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