Two groups representing health carriers hailed an executive order by President George W. Bush directing federal agencies to tell beneficiaries more about the cost and quality of their health benefits.

The order also directs the agencies to develop interoperable computer systems to better manage beneficiary health care records.

America’s Health Insurance Plans and the National Association of Health Underwriters issued statements saying the order will help make the health system more cost-effective nationwide.

The order, signed Tuesday, affects the Dept. of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare-Medicaid; the Defense Department; the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees federal employee benefits; and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The order obliges the agencies to collect data about the cost and quality of care received by their beneficiaries and to disclose that information to the beneficiaries.

The order will help create a system that fosters better care by giving all consumers better information for making health care decisions, said Karen Ignani, president and chief executive of AHIP.

“Health insurance plans also are committed to advancing an interconnected and interoperable health care system in which health information can be exchanged electronically and in a secure framework,” Ignani said.

Janet Trautwein, vice president and chief executive of NAHU, said the order could help reduce excessive use of health care services and claims.

“The best way to do this is through choice and competition, which can only work if consumers have adequate information about the cost and quality of the health care they are consuming,” said Trautwein.