Neither physicians nor health system executives place much trust in health insurers, according to a report in Modern Healthcare, and consumers aren’t all that happy with them either.
Health care marketing and communications agency ReviveHealth's 11th Trust Index report indicates that the lowest level of trust comes from health system execs, whose level of trust in health plans dipped to a score of 52 out of 100 this year, compared to 54.1 in 2016. Behind them come physicians, who scored health plans at 55.8 on the trust index, essentially unchanged from last year.
Consumers gave health insurers a score of 69, lower than they rated hospitals (74.2) and physicians (79.3).
The survey calculates the level of trust based on how honest, reliable and fair health system executives, physicians and consumers consider health insurers. It also gauges insurance executives’ level of trust in health systems and physicians.
There was a pretty wide range in level of trust for the major U.S. health plans included in the survey, with the worst coming in at 36.3 and the most trusted at 68. Disturbingly, UnitedHealth, the largest health insurer in the country with 49.5 million members, scored the lowest—and has done so since the survey first began.
Anthem saw its score fall the most year over year, coming in nearly as low as UnitedHealth. Anthem’s CEO is Joseph Swedish, who formerly served as CEO of health system Trinity Health. In a statement, a spokeswoman for Anthem said in the report that the company “has a long history of working with providers to improve the accessibility, affordability and effectiveness of quality healthcare. We are advocates for our members and are committed to providing them with access to affordable, quality care.”
The company with the highest trust score was Cigna. Anthem and Cigna are still fighting a legal battle over a $1.85 billion break-up fee, the report says, that Cigna believes it is entitled to after their proposed merger fell through earlier this year.
While Aetna and Humana scores have remained fairly constant, independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans have experienced a steady decline over the last few years.
Insurers' trust in health systems, on the other hand, grew to 68.4 on the trust index, compared to 67.4 last year.
Even though it’s trusted least, UnitedHealth added 2.5 million people to its membership total in the second quarter of this year, the report adds, while growing revenue by 8 percent—indicating how little influence the opinions of consumers have over insurers’ bottom line. Consumers, after all, don’t have much choice in insurance providers due to employer selection of plans and a shrinking marketplace.