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Understanding Employee Awareness of Health Care Quality Information: How Can Employers Benefit?


  • Jean Abraham,

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    • Address correspondence to Jean Abraham, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Healthcare Management, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, 321-19th Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Roger Feldman, Ph.D., is Blue Cross Professor of Health Insurance and Caroline Carlin, F.S.A., is a doctoral student with the Division of Health Services Research and Policy, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

  • Roger Feldman,

  • Caroline Carlin


Objective. To analyze the factors associated with employee awareness of employer-disseminated quality information on providers.

Data Sources. Primary data were collected in 2002 on a stratified, random sample of 1,365 employees in 16 firms that are members of the Buyers Health Care Action Group (BHCAG) located in the Minneapolis–St. Paul region. An employer survey was also conducted to assess how employers communicated the quality information to employees.

Study Design. In 2001, BHCAG sponsored two programs for reporting provider quality. We specify employee awareness of the quality information to depend on factors that influence the benefits and costs of search. Factors influencing the benefits include age, sex, provider satisfaction, health status, job tenure, and Twin Cities tenure. Factors influencing search costs include employee income, education, and employer communication strategies. We estimate the model using bivariate probit analysis.

Data Collection. Employee data were collected by phone survey.

Principal Findings. Overall, the level of quality information awareness is low. However, employer communication strategies such as distributing booklets to all employees or making them available on request have a large effect on the probability of quality information awareness. Employee education and utilization of providers' services are also positively related to awareness.

Conclusions. This study is one of the first to investigate employee awareness of provider quality information. Given the direct implications for medical outcomes, one might anticipate higher rates of awareness regarding provider quality, relative to plan quality. However, we do not find empirical evidence to support this assertion.