Ranking Systems Shift Gears

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, today agreed to adopt a doctor ranking program that takes into account factors other than cost. Empire is the third insurer to agree to new physician ranking guidelines established by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. It’s parent WellPoint Inc. said it will apply the new guidelines to its existing ranking programs in other parts of the country.

As part of these agreements, insurers need to hire an oversight monitor, known as a ratings examiner, to evaluate compliance with the system, and who will meet with Mr. Cuomo every six months to review compiled information.

In October, Cigna HealthCare of New York said it would adapt its ranking system to the new guidelines and yesterday, Aetna, the state’s third-largest insurer, said it would also change its rankings to fit within the new regulations.

This is good news and a large step in the right direction for reasonable and meaningful ranking programs in the future.

Update 11/20/2007

NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) – The New York attorney general said on Tuesday that UnitedHealth Group Inc has become the latest health insurer to adopt his model for a physician ranking program.