J.D. Power: Health plans have work to do in communicating with members

Commercial insurance members' satisfaction with their plans stayed flat between 2021 and 2022, according to a new survey from J.D. Power.

Satisfaction was on a steady climb over the past five years, the survey found, but plateaued in the past year amid declines in how well members' expectations for customer service were met and dissatisfaction with their plan designs and network providers.

Health plans that were perceived by members as responsive enjoyed higher scores than those that were not, J.D. Power found. The Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and regional Blues insurers were consistently ranked as the highest scoring in the study's 22 geographic regions.

The results suggest plenty of untapped opportunities to improve in consumer-facing outreach and in boosting access to and uptake of digital care tools, the survey said.

“We’re entering a period in healthcare where we anticipate a relatively predictable ramp-up in healthcare utilization, which will create significant opportunities for health plans to deliver more customer-centric and differentiated care,” said Christopher Lis, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power, in a statement. “It’s important to note, however, that customer expectations have evolved during the past two years, in tandem with increasing momentum around the adoption of value-based care delivery models."

For example, call center scores declined over all, according to the survey. Members said they felt more effort was needed in these calls, as they would have to repeat information and would not have questions resolved in a timely fashion. Hold times increased by an average of 52 seconds, or 15%, while knowledge and clarity of information decreased.

In addition, member engagement with digital communication tools has remained flat while satisfaction with these tools has declined, according to the survey. The study found decreases in satisfaction with text messaging, apps and website communications.

Only 22% of members said their health plans are "innovative," a number that has remained flat over the past three years.

"Health plan members expect a personalized, hands-on experience when dealing with customer support and they expect a seamless digital experience when engaging online," Lis said. "Health plans have some work to do to get the formulas right.”