Principal Releases Health Care Awareness Tools

January 27, 2004 ( - The Principal Financial Group wants consumers to make more informed health-care decisions, and is rolling out tools to further the cause.

The new Web-based tools, available at , provide information about hundreds of health conditions and treatment options, in addition to evaluations of care provided by more than 5,000 hospitals and acute-care facilities located throughout the United States, according to a news release.  The assessments cover four categories:

  • General Health
  • Cardiac Health
  • Diabetes
  • Fitness.

After each assessment, members receive a summary of recommended lifestyle changes they can make to improve their health, as well as positive feedback on what they are doing right.

After receiving their assessment, health-care members of The Principal will be able to research broad categories of care or treatment options for a specific condition, with a list of questions to ask the doctor and the insurance company provided.   Further, the tool provides data on risks associated with different treatments, as well as the estimated days the patient will need to stay in the hospital.

Members will also be able to search for hospitals within a particular distance. The tool then ranks the facilities based on the importance of the criteria provided by the member, such as:

  • volume of patients treated
  • complications and post-operative infections rates
  • accreditation.

The member can then research the hospitals’ history with the chosen treatment method, including such factors as the number of patients receiving the selected treatment in the past year and complication rates.

Additionally, members will be able to view a range of inpatient costs related to a specific procedure by facility, giving them the information needed to better plan the out of pocket costs they might incur, as well as costs their employer could potentially incur.

Principal says the rollout is targeted to consumers and the company’s more than1.3 million insured and self-funded medical customers become more actively involved in their health care.   “Since we first entered the medical business in 1941, we have not experienced such urgency for health customers to become proactive in learning about their care and wellness, and getting involved in treatment options,” Jerry Ripperger, medical product director for The Principal said in the announcement.   ” By making available these additional tools and resources, our hope is that our customers will become real consumers of their health care and feel comfortable and capable of participating in decisions about their wellness.”