Priority Has Earned Top 10 Status

November 24, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Already one of the largest health plans in Michigan, Priority Health has a new label to tout: One of the nation's best.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance has named Grand Rapids-based Priority Health as a "top 10" health plan in the United States based on customer satisfaction. The ranking stems from the results of evaluations that NCQA performed on nearly 600 health plans across the nation that voluntarily subject themselves to a quality review.

NCQA, an independent accrediting body for managed-care plans, chose the 2004 top 10 health plans for patient satisfaction based on their performance in a range of criteria that includes access to needed care, getting care quickly, how well doctors communicate, claims processing and customer service.

"This award affirms our commitment to deliver an exceptional customer experience," Priority Health President and CEO Kim Horn said. "Our core purpose is to improve health by providing people access to affordable and excellent health care. We never take this responsibility lightly and continually strive for new and innovative ways to improve the health of our customers."

Priority Health has some 438,000 subscribers in a 31-county service territory covering western Michigan. More than 6,300 employers use the health plan to provide employee heath benefits.

The health plan's care network consists of 3,200 care providers, including more than 1,000 primary-care physicians and nearly 1,600 specialists.

The NCQA recognition provides Priority Health, which has grown its subscriber base significantly in recent years, fodder to use in both marketing and making internal improvements.

Undergoing third-party quality reviews such as NCQA's provides Priority Heath a way to benchmark itself against other health plans and examine how its best practices stack up, said Rob Pocock, Priority Health's associate vice president of corporate communications.

"It provides us with a discipline to make sure we're doing the right thing," Pocock said. "This is confirming we're moving in the right direction."

And improving the quality of a health plan and the care people receive helps to ultimately better control escalating health-care costs, he said.

Priority Health during October began touting the NCQA recognition on billboards across the region and will use it on other marketing materials.

Pocock is unsure how much the recognition will help generate new business for the health plan. While quality rankings appeal to some employers, others see high quality as an expectation and most still buy their health coverage based on price, Pocock said.    

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