Health plan satisfaction down

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, FIle) (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, FIle)

Concerns over not having enough health coverage are driving down plan member satisfaction with health plans across the country, according to a survey by J.D. Power & Associates.

According to the research firm’s survey of some 34,000 consumers, 41 percent of existing health plan members said they feel they don’t have enough coverage for routine visits, serious illness or injury, health and wellness programs, routine diagnostics and drug coverage.

The annual study measures satisfaction among members of 136 health plans in 18 regions throughout the United States by examining six key factors: coverage and benefits, provider choice, information and communication, claims processing, cost, and customer service.

In 2014, overall member satisfaction averaged 669 (on a 1,000-point scale).

Concerns over not having enough health coverage negatively impacts overall satisfaction by 133 points, more than any other coverage-related issue.

Also driving down satisfaction, unsurprisingly, is health care costs. The study found that 55 percent of members indicate having experienced an increase in costs in 2013, which negatively impacts cost satisfaction. The average monthly premium paid in 2013 is $285.

Additionally, the survey found that 35 percent of members said they received a notice of changes in their coverage, networks or rates from their health plan in the past 12 months.

J.D. Power said there are simple things to be done to improve satisfaction from plan members. Among them is timely communication and services — such as wellness programs — that increase member engagement.

“On average, members wait eight days for communication from their provider after a pre-approval request has been submitted,” said Rick Johnson, senior director of the health care practice at J.D. Power. “Health plans must look for ways to promptly communicate both pre-approvals and cost in order to minimize member anxiety and mitigate concerns about access to care, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction.”

Consumers in California and Michigan were among the most satisfied with their health plans. In both those states, consumers gave their insurance an average score of 680. In California, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan took the top spot with a satisfaction score of 756, while Health Alliance Plan of Michigan scored the region’s highest at 711.

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