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How good is your health plan

As people are enrolling in health plans for next year, the state updated a tool that could help them choose.

The Maryland Health Care Commission late Tuesday released its annual quality care guide that examines the good and bad about insurance plans. The department says it allows consumers and human resource managers to compare the performance of plans as they decide on coverage for themselves and their families.

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The report found that most Maryland preferred provider organizations, or PPOs, performed at or better than the national average during the review period. Most of the state's health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, performed below the national average.

Five of the eight PPOs scored among the top 10 percent of plans nationally - based on the percentage of patients who gave their plan a rating of good or better. Two of seven HMOs scored as well.

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The guide includes plans offered by large employers and the state, but not those offered on Maryland's health exchange under Obamacare.

"Declines in commercial HMOs' quality performance and consumer satisfaction levels in 2015 are worrisome as these products are widely available through employer-sponsored health plans and in the individual insurance market," said Ben Steffen, the health commission's executive director, in a statement. "As information on the guide becomes more accessible on the Internet, poor performance will have greater and more immediate adverse impact on health plans' success in the market."

The guide consists of two reports that look at the experience of those enrolled in the plans, clinical performance and how the various insurance plans address health care disparities.

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