More older Americans are choosing Medicare Advantage plans, according to the J.D. Power 2017 Medicare Advantage Study.SM
But many health plans are not maximizing their potential by proactively marketing their offerings to consumers – and most are falling short when it comes to successfully addressing provider integration and access to care for their members, the report finds.
“Our data shows that the ability to deliver consistently strong customer satisfaction in the Medicare Advantage market is becoming a key differentiator for the leaders in this space and that satisfaction is achieved through a series of highly choreographed best practices,” says Valerie Monet, senior director of J.D. Power’s insurance practice.
The Costa Mesa, California firm surveyed 3,442 members of Medicare Advantage plans across the country, and found just 11 percent say they had received any communications from their health plan regarding moving from current coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan. Among those that had, overall satisfaction scores are 52 index points higher than those who received no marketing contact (762 vs. 710, respectively, on a 1,000-point scale).
For all plans, slightly more than half (54 percent) of Medicare Advantage plan members say they “completely” understand how their plan works, while just 34 percent says their plans effectively coordinate care among doctors and other health care providers.
“Provider integration remains a friction point for most members — ensuring members generally see their doctor as a trusted partner in their medical care is the most important factor driving the highest levels of overall satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans,” the study says. “Somewhat surprisingly, it is not the soft skills that engender this feeling of trust, but rather assistance navigating the myriad of health care providers and managing associated costs that matter most.”
Overall satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans is 799, on average, which is 9 points higher than the J.D. Power 2016 Medicare Advantage Study.SM Despite the significant opportunity to grow in this segment, only one plan, WellCare, improved the member experience significantly from the previous year.
Kaiser Permanente ranks highest in Medicare Advantage member satisfaction for a third consecutive year, with a score of 852, which is 49 points higher than the second-ranked plan. Kaiser outperforms all other plans across five of the six factors that comprise the overall satisfaction index. Highmark ranks second, with a score of 803, and Humana ranks third, with a score of 794.
The study, now in its third year, measures member satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans — also called Medicare Part C or Part D — based on six factors (in order of importance): coverage and benefits (25 percent); customer service (19 percent); claims processing (15 percent); cost (14 percent); provider choice (14 percent); and information and communication (12 percent).