How the Survey Was Done

Who did the survey?

This survey, part of the national Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study (CAHPS), was sponsored by the Iowa Department of Personnel as a pilot project to determine the feasibility of bringing information about consumer-assessed health plan quality into the decision-making process for State employees as they select their health insurance plans. The survey, analysis and production of this report were completed by researchers at the University of Iowa Public Policy Center in collaboration with researchers from RAND, one of the developers of the CAHPS survey. The survey was not sponsored or conducted by the individual health plans.

Who was surveyed?

A random sample of 4614 State of Iowa Employees was drawn from administrative data furnished by the Iowa Department of Personnel in the Fall of 1999.  This database included employees who had health care coverage in one of the nine health care plans offered through the Department of Personnel.  In order to compare the perceptions of primary subscribers with those of spouses covered as dependents in the same plan, a second random sample of 800 spouses of State of Iowa employees was drawn from a database furnished by Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Iowa.  Spouses included in this sample were not married to sampled employees, i.e. no two respondents were married to each other.

Who responded to the survey?

A total of 2142 employees and 292 spouses responded to the survey. This reflects a response rate of 46.4% for employees and 36.5% for spouses.  Thirty-three of the surveys received from United Care of the Midlands participants were not utilized, due to their small number, bringing the employee sample to 2109.  The separate Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield spouse and subscriber comparison sample contains data from 360 employees and 292 spouses.

By health plan, the respondents were as follows:
Plan Number of Respondents % of Respondents
Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield 3+ (W3+)
Principal Primary (PP)
Principal Open Access (PO)
John Deere Health Care (JD)
Care Choices (CC)
Secure Care (SC)
Select 2000 (S2000)
Unity Choice (UC)

How was the survey conducted?

Surveys were mailed to 5414 individuals in two waves.  The first mailing went out in November 1999 and was followed by a reminder postcard three weeks later.  The second mailing occurred in January 2000.

How are the data represented in the report?

For each item in the report, the answers for all responding employees in the five largest plans are presented. In addition, for the questions about 'rating care', the answers given by people who used more health care (three or more visits in last six months) are shown separately. This is because those who use a lot of health care may view the system differently from those who seek health care less frequently.

What is CAHPS?

CAHPS stands for the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study. CAHPS is a national effort to develop a way to give consumers information about the quality of health care plans from the perspective of consumers already in those plans. CAHPS is sponsored by the US Public Health Service, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. The three primary developers of the CAHPS survey and report are Harvard University, RAND, and the Research Triangle Institute. Surveys and reports used in this project were modified, conducted and produced by researchers at the University of Iowa Public Policy Center in consultation with the Iowa Department of Personnel and researchers at RAND.

For more information about this report or about this project, please contact:
Gerd Clabaugh
Iowa Department of Personnel
Grimes Building
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 282-5261
Peter Damiano, Director
Health Policy Research Program
University of Iowa, Public Policy Center
227 South Quadrangle
Iowa City, IA 52242
(319) 335-6800

[ How to use this report ]  [ Background information about the health plans[ Survey Information ]

[ Summary of health plan ratings ]  [ Rating of health plan quality and doctors ]  [ The health plan ]
[ Medical office staff ]  [ Getting the care you need when you need it ]  [ Doctors and medical care ]

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