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CTS Followback Survey


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The Followback Survey is a component of the Community Tracking Study (CTS) in which the privately financed health insurance policies covering Household Survey respondents were "followed back" to the organization administering the policy. The Followback Survey was designed as a mechanism for obtaining detailed and accurate information about privately insured Household Survey respondents' health insurance. In the Household Survey, respondents were asked to identify and describe the private health insurance policy or policies under which they received health care services. Based on the names of health insurance plans and employers that were provided by Household Survey respondents, health plans, employers, and other organizations were contacted for the Followback Survey. Data collected for the 1996-97 and 1998-99 Followback Surveys were linked to over 28,000 and 22,000 (respectively) Household Survey respondents who had private comprehensive health insurance policies. Data collection was primarily by telephone, although secondary sources and a faxed, self-administered follow-up form were also used as needed. HSC worked with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., to conduct the Followback Survey.

The information obtained from Followback Survey respondents about health insurance characteristics includes product type (HMO, POS, PPO, or indemnity), in-network and out-of-network coverage, provider payment methods and consumer cost sharing.

The Followback Survey was conducted twice: for the 1996-97 and 1998-99 Household Surveys.

Examples of Survey Questions

  • Do you think of this product as an HMO (health maintenance organization), POS (Point of Service plan), PPO (preferred provider organization), indemnity plan (traditional fee for service), or something else?
  • If enrollees do not have a referral and go to out-of-network doctors, does the plan cover any of the costs for these visits?
  • What is the deductible for office visits?
  • What is the typical method of payment that your organization uses for primary care providers? Is it fee for service, discounted fee for service, salaried by your organization, or capitation (or a combined professional or global capitation)?
Examples of Analyses That Can Be Done with the Data
  • Differences in people's ratings of their own health care by whether they are actually enrolled in an HMO or whether they simply think they are enrolled in an HMO.
  • Effect of health insurance features on utilization (e.g., number of physician visits).

Data Files for Public Use. A "restricted use" data file is available for researchers to do their own analysis of this survey. Because this survey has unique concerns related to maintaining the confidentiality of respondents, there is no public use version of the data file. Note that there is no separate data file specifically for the Followback Survey data; instead, the data have been added to the restricted use versions of the Household Survey data files. For more information, read about Using the HSC Data Files.

Finding Additional Information. Additional information about this survey can be found in various HSC Technical Publications. The user's guides for this survey provide summary information about the CTS in general and this survey in particular. Note that the relevant user's guides for the Followback Survey are the ones for the restricted use versions of the 1996-97 and 1998-99 Household Surveys. The user's guides also include information about how to use the data file, as well as appendices with copies of the survey instruments. The codebooks list the variables on the data files and their frequencies. The methodology reports have detailed information documenting how the survey was conducted.

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The Center for Studying Health System Change Ceased operation on Dec. 31, 2013.