For payers, member satisfaction on the rise

Good news, payers: Customer satisfaction with health plans has improved since 2014. Among members of 134 health plans in 18 regions throughout the country, overall member satisfaction averages 679 on a 1,000-point scale, according to a new report from J.D. Power. That's 10 points higher than the 2014 average.

The increase, in part, is thanks to plans shifting to a more consumer-centric mindset, with the intention of building member trust and loyalty. Here are some key findings from the report:

  • Plans saw an overall 17-point improvement in the categories of information sharing and communication. Plans are making an effort to refine messaging and upgrade their websites; Cigna, for instance, has found it can better connect with customers by using simple, clear and common-sense language.
  • Satisfaction with customer service increased 11 points, thanks to plans "matching communication methods to member preferences," the report said.
  • Cost satisfaction increased by 13 points. Fewer members noted a rise in monthly premiums.
  • Members who "strongly agree" that their health plans is a reliable advisor were less likely to switch plan providers.
  • Overall member satisfaction is 108 points higher among members who have contacted their plan via mobile app compared to those who haven't. UnitedHealth's member satisfaction has grown thanks in part to its price transparency tool, Health4Me, which now allows for mobile payments and syncing with wearables.

"Health plans have come a long way since last year as the focus has shifted toward better serving member needs and building trust," Rick Johnson, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power, said in the report. "However, there is still a lot of work to do."

Additionally, the report ranked health plans based on customer satisfaction for each region. Here's what J.D. Power found:

  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan ranked highest among plans in the West (778) and the East (762).
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas (701) ranked highest in the Midwest.
  • In the south, Humana (687) ranked highest.

For more:
- here's the report (.pdf)