WellPoint is most difficult to work with, hospital execs say

Bad news strikes WellPoint again--after its CEO Angela Braly's management has been scrutinized, the nation's second largest insurer now also is the least popular insurer, according to a survey of more than 400 hospital executives.

Of the six largest for-profit insurers, WellPoint came in last place as hospital execs gave it low marks for rejected claims and wrongly-denied bills. Only 27 percent of execs viewed WellPoint favorably, representing WellPoint's worst showing in the survey's six-year run, reported Bloomberg.

Conducted by ReviveHealth, the survey asked hospital leaders to rank insurers on such topics as image, reputation, contract negotiations and claims-processing.  

"Hospitals say WellPoint is just exceptionally difficult to deal with," ReviveHealth President Brandon Edwards told Bloomberg. "Even though they're only present in about one-third of the states, they were still rated the absolute worst overall."

WellPoint took the title of worst-ranked insurer from UnitedHealthcare, which has slowly been improving its relationship with hospitals and providers. For the second straight year, UnitedHealth improved to a 44 percent overall approval rate, but it still scored lower than WellPoint in many individual categories, including honesty and candor, timeliness and responsiveness, and processing and paying claims, ReviveHealth said.  

"We continue to strengthen our relationships with care providers across the country," Unitedhealthcare Spokesman Daryl Richard told Bloomberg. "Productive, collaborative relationships between physicians and companies like UnitedHealthcare are important if we are going to make progress together."

On the flip side, the survey found Cigna had the best reputation, with 71 percent of hospital execs liking the insurer. It also was considered "the best payer to deal with" for the second year in a row.

"Cigna's continued strong performance in the ReviveHealth study reflects the company's commitment to becoming the partner of choice for hospitals and health care professionals by listening to and acting on their needs, pursuing continuous improvement, and making significant improvements in technology and claims payment processes," Julie Vayer, Cigna vice president for Total Health & Network Operations, said in a statement to FierceHealthPayer.

To learn more:
- read the ReviveHealth statement (.pdf) and survey (.pdf)
- see the Bloomberg article

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