Womens Health

Insurance carriers need to improve if service fundamentals by “proactively” offer advice and provide customized options to employers if they are to increase employer satisfaction with health insurance plans, a new study suggests.

Most major health care insurance carriers scored below average on employer satisfaction with fully-insured health cared plans and self-insured plans, according to a Westlake Village, Calif.-based J.D. Power and Associates study.

The average employer satisfaction with fully-insured plans was 671 out of 1000 points.

Kaiser (714) and CIGNA (687) scored highest on employer satisfaction with fully-insured plans.

Aetna (666), UnitedHealthcare (666), Humana (661) and WellPoint/Anthem (659) scored below average.

UnitedHealthcare scored 665 on employer satisfaction with self-insured plans, the only carrier to score over the 657-point average.

CIGNA (641), WellPoint/Anthem (635) and Aetna (631) scored below average.

“As employers evaluate how implementation of healthcare reform will affect coverage for their employees, it’s critically important for health plans to understand what is really driving their satisfaction,” said Rick Millard, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates, in a statement. “Health plans will have challenges if they need to emphasize marketing to individual purchasers, particularly with new medical loss ratio requirements. to retain employers as customers, paying attention to their service expectations will be as important as offering lower rates.”

Employers might be more satisfied with health insurance plans if service fundamentals, especially the availability of customized account services and how problems are handled, were to improve, the study reported.

Certain services may “strongly” improve employer satisfaction with health plans, including: ensuring that the insurance carrier representative understands the employer’s specific business needs; providing customized cost management solutions; and processing claims accurately and efficiently, according to the study.

Carrier representatives should “proactively” offer advice and provide customized options such as giving employers a choice of provider network discounts, or developing cost reports that employers can act on with employees. “Efficiently” resolving problems also has a strong effect on employer satisfaction, the survey reported.

Errors such as problems with claims processing and errors on member enrollment cards have a “significant” negative effect on employer satisfaction, the study showed.

The study, in its second year, is based on responses from 7,024 employers fielded between March and April 2011. it measures employee plan service experience; account servicing; product offering/benefit design; problem resolution; and cost management.

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