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Efforts by commercial health plans to increase Chlamydia trachomatis screening among their members

Efforts by commercial health plans to increase Chlamydia trachomatis screening among their members

Sexually Transmitted Diseases 40(1): 55-60

The screening rate for Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) is below 38% nationally, despite the high prevalence of Ct nationally and the low cost of both the screening test and the treatment. The purposes of this study are (a) to ascertain what activities commercial health plans have attempted (if any) to increase their Ct screening rates and (b) to identify barriers to improving Ct screening rates in commercial health plans. Qualitative research methods were used, including structured interviews. In-depth telephone interviews with commercial health plans were conducted to identify health plan activities that led to high Ct screening rates by providers. Plans were selected, which were either in the top or in the bottom quarter of all plans or had either an increase or decrease in Ct screening rates of at least 3 percentage points over the previous 2 to 3 years. Interviews were restricted to plans reporting Ct screening rates to the National Committee for Quality Assurance for at least 3 years, plans with enrollment of at least 500 commercially insured women aged 15 to 26 years, and plans that were not staff model-managed care plans. A total of 35 structured interviews were completed with a response rate of 64%. Overall Ct screening rates in commercial health plans are quite low, with a median rate of 35%. All interviewed plans-both successful and not successful-reimbursed for Ct screening and used clinical guidelines. All but 3 plans had some type of intervention in place designed to improve Ct screening rats. The interventions varied-some aimed at providers, others at patients, and others at data collection-but the health plans were actively trying to improve screening rates. Health plans identified several barriers to improving screening rates in the commercially insured population. These include difficulties in identifying sexually active members for screening, limited health plan resources to target the problem, concerns about contacting minors, and cultural barriers to discussing sexually transmitted diseases. Both high- and low-performing plans are actively trying to increase the Ct screening rates. However, efforts to date have not been successful, suggesting the need for alternative approaches to address existing barriers.

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Accession: 052912062

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PMID: 23254117

DOI: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e31827657db

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