Medicaid recipients are more satisfied with their coverage thanindividuals who are enrolled in commercial health plans, accordingto the J.D. Power 2017 Managed Medicaid SpecialReport.

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The Costa Mesa, Calif. firm surveyed 2,145 managed Medicaidhealth plan members, and found that overall satisfaction withmanaged Medicaid organizations was reported as 784 out of apossible 1,000 — 78 points higher than commercial health planmember satisfaction as measured by the J.D. Power 2017 MemberHealth Plan Study.SM

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The most important factor for enrollees in managed Medicaid health plans is the ability tochoose from a variety of providers, according to the survey. Thenumber one factor shaping the experiences of those in commerciallyinsured plans is the type of coverage and benefits they are able toreceive.

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However, more than 4 in 10 (42 percent) Medicaid managed carerecipients put off getting the medical treatments they neededbecause of cost. Likewise, 40 percent avoided buying prescriptionmedications due to cost.

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With 74 million Americans now receiving health coverage throughMedicaid, the government program has become the single largestsource of health insurance in the country. But member experiencesacross states can be markedly different, according to thesurvey.

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Iowa, Tennessee, Arizona and Indiana — states that have adominant regional plan or a plan that owns a health system — havethe easiest access to doctors and hospitals, compared with theother states included in the study. Moreover, Indiana, whichrequires every Medicaid recipient to contribute to a health savingsaccount, has higher out-of-pocket expenditures than the nationalaverage, but without a corresponding drop in cost satisfactionamong recipients, the survey found.

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“While, on the whole, Medicaid managed care organizations arescoring relatively high marks for overall customer satisfaction,there are some significant challenges involving access to care andcost of care that have the potential to have a counterproductiveeffect on patient engagement, and, ultimately, population health,”says Valerie Monet, senior director of U.S. health insuranceoperations at J.D. Power. The states with the highest levels ofsatisfaction among Medicaid recipients are Utah (885), Iowa (859),Colorado (854), Arizona (840) and Virginia (840). Thelowest-performing states in terms of overall recipient satisfactionare Kansas (683), Mississippi (686), Delaware (716), New Jersey(728) and California (731).

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Medicaid managed care plans evaluated in the study includeand/or are operated by the following parent companies: Aetna,Anthem; BlueCare Tennessee; BlueShield of California; CalOptima;CareSource; Centene; EmblemHealth; Health Care Service Corporation(HCSC); HealthFirst; Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NewJersey; Humana; Independence Health; Inland Empire Health Plan; LACare Health Plan; Meridian Health Plan; Molina Healthcare; NYSCatholic Health Plan; Partnership Health Plan of California; UnitedHealthcare; University of Pittsburgh Medical Centers (UPMC); andWellCare Health Plans.

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.