Health plans continue to struggle with customer experience

Health plans received an overall "poor" rating in the fifth annual Temkin Group report on customer experience, ranking ahead of only TV and Internet service providers among the 20 industries surveyed.

In all, the report studied 293 companies identified by roughly 10,000 people in the firm's recent Consumer Benchmark Survey. Respondents rated firms on three factors--success in getting what they wanted, the amount of effort it took to interact and the emotional response to those interactions. The Temkin Group ranked firms based on the difference between high and low scores in all three categories. An average of all three scores determined overall rankings.

No health plans appeared among the top 50 firms--a list dominated by supermarkets, retailers and fast-food chains. On the other hand, the list of the bottom 50 firms featured 10 payers: bottom-ranked Coventry Health Plan as well as Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Health Net, Medicaid and four Blue Cross Blue Shield plans.

TriCare ranked highest among the payers included in the survey. The health plan for uniformed military members and their families earned an overall score of 67 percent, compared to the 85 percent that top-ranked supermarket chain Publix received.

TriCare also ranked 13 percentage points ahead of the average score for health plans; that represents the largest gap between a top score for an industry and an average score, according to the report. Kaiser Permamente's 11-percent gap wasn't far behind.

The Temkin Group report shows that payers have a long way to go to match the customer experience of market leaders in other industries. Insurers are trying to get better. A recent JD Power suggested that member satisfaction with payers is on the rise, with plans making particular strides in improved information sharing.

However, as Motley Fool noted in its assessment of the Temkin Group report, poor customer service does not seem to be hurting health plans' share prices. As health insurance stocks hit all-time highs, health plans arguably see little need to fix what's broken, the article said.

For more:
- read the Temkin Group summary and report (.pdf)
- here's the Motley Fool article

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