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Sanford Health Plan gets top honor

The National Committee for Quality Assurance has honored Sanford Health Plan's HMO with the highest achievement: Excellent Accreditation.

"This accreditation is considered the gold standard within our industry," said Michael Crandell, M.D., chief medical officer for Sanford Health Plan. "The Excellent Accreditation supports the Sanford Health Plan mission to provide quality insurance to our commercial HMO clients."

The NCQA review includes a two-day, onsite review by trained surveyors, including physicians. A national panel reviews the surveyor's findings and issues one of five accreditations. This provides HMO consumers with the ability to evaluate the quality of different health plans through a variety of dimensions, not just cost.

"It is partly a health plan's members that determine whether it earns NCQA's Excellent Accreditation status. Any plan that does so should be proud of its accomplishment," said Margaret E. O'Kane, president of NCQA. "It is a sign that the plan is delivering great service and great care - it's met the toughest test in managed care."

NCQA also reviews health insurance plan performance in five categories. Sanford Health Plan received four out of four stars for access and service, qualified providers and getting better categories. It received three stars for staying healthy and living with illness.

Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in Fargo, N.D., and Sioux Falls, S.D., that is the largest rural, not-for-profit health-care system in the nation with a presence in 110 communities in eight states. Sanford is also in the process of developing international clinics in Belize and Ireland.

Sanford Health includes 30 hospitals, 111 clinic locations and more than 800 physicians in 70 specialty areas of medicine. With more than 18,000 employees, Sanford Health is the largest employer in North and South Dakota. For details, visit