J.D. Power: Insurers Attempt to Satisfy and Engage Plan Subscribers

Insurance is big news and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, especially as the Trump Administration works to pull its levers on the current law, the Affordable Care Act. That goes without saying. What does need some talking points, according to J.D. Power and Associates, is that health plan members tend to be more satisfied with their insurance coverage when providers coordinate their healthcare.

According to the firm’s latest research, J.D. Power and Associates found care coordination was the most “important factor” that influences member satisfaction for a simple reason -- this allows for easy access to doctors, but that coordination of care is lacking in most cases. Per the firm’s research, as much as 25 percent of the people who were asked said that they had received coordinated care through their health plan.

Thus, the future of care, as far as those who have traditional coverage plans, may be found in how payers and their contracted providers coordinate with each another.

Valerie Monet, senior director of U.S. insurance operations at J.D. Power, said in an announcement, “Amidst sweeping changes in healthcare delivery and payment models, our data is showing that the one thing consumers value most is clear-cut, easy access to doctors and other healthcare providers.”

To measure and review its data, J.D. Power looked at 168 plans across 22 states for the study. Perhaps also worth noting is that the highest-performing plans were those in integrated delivery systems. Those plans outperformed other insurers in every category. The most favored is Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, which ranked highest in six regions across the study.

“As premium costs rise and newly enacted reform legislation takes effect, achieving satisfaction among health plan members is more challenging than ever,” read a statement on behalf of the report from J.D. Power. “Commercial health insurance plans are striving to meet the expectations of health plan members amid high levels of public scrutiny and price sensitivity, which makes it essential to listen to the voice of the customer.”

Additionally, people in low-cost plans with narrow networks also reported higher satisfaction, though, a limited care network can potentially cause friction with plan members. Despite this, just 33 percent reported that their plan offered them a narrow network option. Payer-provider alliances have mixed payoff for member satisfaction. Improvements in satisfaction were seen in some areas but not in others, J.D. Power said.

The reason for the study is to allow health plans the ability to compare service quality against benchmarks; identify ways to sustain member satisfaction as variables like deductibles and plan complexity continue to mount; compare brand image and loyalty ratings across plans to identify the perceptual strengths (or weaknesses) that affect community reputation – or better market their plans; understand drivers of overall member satisfaction, including coverage and benefits, provider choice, and customer service; better engage members; and enhance delivery of health plan information and communication; among other reasons.

“Health insurance companies that listen to their members and prioritize actions to satisfy their expectations are more likely to directly impact overall ROI,” J.D. Power said in its report.

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Scott Rupp

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Scott E. Rupp is a writer and an award-winning journalist focused on healthcare technology. He has worked as a public relations executive for a major electronic health record/practice management vendor, and he currently manages his own agency, millerrupp. In addition to writing for a variety of publications, Scott also offers his insights on healthcare technology and its leaders on his site, Electronic Health Reporter.

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