Aetna is best health plan, UnitedHealthcare is worst, hospital execs say

WellPoint/Anthem is difficult to deal with, "incredibly bureaucratic" and pays poor rates. But UnitedHealthcare gets top honors as the worst healthcare payer for the fourth year in a row, according to the annual "National Payor Survey," which asked 225 hospital and healthcare executives to rank seven national healthcare payers.

Sixty-five percent of respondents rated UnitedHealthcare negatively for how it deals with hospitals and said the company has a negative image and reputation.

"It's clear that hospital executives are frustrated," says Nathan Kaufman, managing director for Kaufman Strategic Advisors. "They see WellPoint/Anthem and other payers increasing their premiums upwards of 20 percent each year, yet reimbursement rates being offered to providers have stayed in the range of 3 to 5 percent. Health providers, and consumers, want to know where those extra dollars are going if not to pay for care."

Aetna was ranked the top health plan for the third consecutive year. Sixty-eight percent of hospital and health system executives gave it high marks in payer image and reputation. Narrowly missing the top spot was Cigna, which received a 65 percent positive rating.

The survey targeted hospital leaders in the industry who negotiate managed care contracts with national health insurance companies and represented 24 percent of U.S. hospitals. It gathered data on hospital executives' opinions about seven key insurers: UnitedHealthcare, Cigna, Aetna, Coventry, Humana, WellPoint/Anthem, and the local state or regional independent nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield plan.

To learn more:
- access the complete survey results here

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