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About California Healthcare Compare

Published: September 2015

In California, Consumer Reports is looking out for consumers by bringing you free healthcare cost and quality information in a graphic, easy-to-understand way. Using the tools available through our website, California Healthcare Compare, you can find the higher- and lower-performing hospitals and medical groups for childbirth, hip and knee replacement, back pain, cancer screening, COPD, pediatric, and diabetes care. You can also see how your costs for the same medical care can vary greatly by exploring what people who live in your area pay in more than 100 different medical situations, from appendicitis to urinary tract infections.

The website is part of the California Medical Price and Quality Transparency Initiative sponsored by the California Department of Insurance, which was awarded a federal grant. Consumer Reports worked with researchers at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco, led by R. Adams Dudley, MD. Additional partners include the University of California, Davis, and Honest Health.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)


1. What is the purpose of this work and web site?

Most states in the country lag far behind in equipping consumers with information to shop for the best, affordable care. California Healthcare Compare is a new website that allows Californians to compare healthcare prices and quality. The online tool makes healthcare price information public and allows consumers to get meaningful price and quality data on a centralized, user-­friendly website—the first of its kind in California.

Beyond providing cost and quality information to consumers, the site will change the marketplace, we hope, by shining a light on the value of the medical care in California and setting the stage for greater competition among hospitals and doctor groups. By fostering an atmosphere of openness and "freeing the data" for consumers, we are making it much easier for consumers to compare their options. The ultimate goal is for consumers to have all the price and quality information they need to shop for specific doctors, hospitals, and medical services.

2. What information is contained within the California Healthcare Compare web site?

California Healthcare Compare contains hospital-level quality ratings for hip and knee replacement, and childbirth. It contains doctor-group quality ratings for diabetes care, back pain, and colon cancer screening. It also contains payment data—what the consumer pays and the part the insurer pays—for more than 100 different medical conditions and procedures.

3. Where does the quality data come from and how are the Ratings calculated?

Please see our technical documentation for details about data sources and how the Ratings are calculated. The hospital data for hip and knee replacement and patient experience of care is from the Federal government’s Hospital Compare database. The childbirth-related content was gathered by the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) and made available through the California Hospitals Assessment and Reporting Taskforce. All infection data (hip & knee; C-section) are from the California Department of Health. The doctor-group level data is made available by the Integrated Healthcare Association, a statewide, multi-stakeholder leadership group that promotes quality improvement, accountability, and affordability of healthcare in California.

4. Where does the payment data come from and how was the data analyzed?

Please see our technical documentation for details about data sources and how the payment data was analyzed. Truven Health supplied claims data for more than 10 million Californians covering a three-year period (2010-2013). Analysis is at a geographic region level (18 regions statewide). Payments are presented several ways: i) total payments (insurer plus patient); ii) insurers’ share of the payment; and iii) patients’ share of the payment. The costs are presented as the average amount that is paid for the service and also as the amounts paid for the service in that area at the low and high end (the 10th and 90th percentiles). These payment ranges show the different amounts people pay for the same treatment or care.

5. Why can’t I see what I would pay for particular doctors and hospitals?

At this time, the only available data is at the regional level. Without changes in the law, access to provider-specific payment information requires the cooperation of insurers and healthcare providers; these organizations have been unwilling to allow us to share their data with you. However, we also provide on the website links to price calculator tools for those California insurers who offer them to their members. If your insurer has such a tool, you can click on their link and get prices specific to your situation.

6. What if I can't find my hospital or doctor group in your Ratings?

If a hospital or doctor group isn't listed, it could be for several reasons. These include:

  • There may not be enough data for a Rating in that category
  • Some report data under a parent organization, so they might not show up as an individual facility
  • Some have changed their name
  • You may have mis-typed your search
Editor's Note:

The project described was supported by Funding Opportunity Number PR-PRP-13-001 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents provided are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS or any of its agencies. This publication uses data from Integrated Healthcare Association’s Performance Measurement Programs. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Integrated Healthcare Association.

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