Blue Shield of California is going where few health plans have: into the world of consumer ratings, a world beyond the plan’s control.

The insurance company has worked with Bazaarvoice to develop a member ratings and review site. This is being rolled out to some members in a first phase, to be expanded over time.

A press release on the plan’s website says, “Our members want to be heard and want to be able to interact with us and with each other in exciting new ways…we’re proud to be the first health plan in the country to be fully transparent.”

The rating section uses a five star scale to measure various member views, including doctor access, drug coverage, value, ease of use of the plan, and overall satisfaction.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Among the earliest health plan projects asking for health consumer reviews was The Health Care Scoop, the brainchild of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. I sat on a webinar panel covering social media and health plans last week with MaryAnn Stump, the Chief Innovation Office of BCBSMN, and Greg Matthews, the social media guru at Humana.
MaryAnn told the attendees, mostly representing health plans, that they should be “brave” and enter this world of consumer-generated media.

What’s preventing so many health plans, and other stakeholder organizations in the health ecosystem, from entering the social media fray?

A story in MSNBC published yesterday explains that some doctors who’ve received negative ratings on consumer review sites have asked patients to sign contracts that they will not post comments to public sites, which some feel is akin to “gag orders” as the story writes.

But this can backfire in the court of public opinion. has a section called the “Wall of Shame” listing doctors who require such patient waivers.

Consumer-generated media isn’t New School to consumers anymore. Angie’s List, et. al., will be growing in health comments over the coming months and years, and the inquiring minds of health citizens — who are paying more out of pocket and becoming greater participants in their health care — want to know.

MaryAnn said, and I quote, “This is a nonlinear journey….you won’t be done unless you quit.” Not only has The Health Care Scoop morphed and grown since its inception 2 years ago, but so have the many projects that Greg has introduced online at Humana. For more on Greg’s social media mandate and strategy, listen to this terrific interview with the wonderful Andre Blackman on his Pulse+Signal blog.

Both of these organizations are building trust, one comment at a time, among both their enrollees as well as consumers at large. MaryAnn told us that the Scoop has received comments well beyond Minnesotans; consumers from all 50 states have chimed in on the site to talk about health care.

Blue Shield of California now gets this the way their sister Blue in Minnesota has, and the way that Humana demonstrates with their proliferation of sites spanning all kinds of health-ful areas, from biking to addressing exercise for kids to improving health plan literacy among members.