Friday
Mar282014

March Brings Three Different Slices of Health Plan Consumer Experience Ratings

by Clive Riddle, March 28, 2014

This month, three annual proprietary consumer experience studies have yielded separate slices of the health plan consumer experience. J.D. Power, Temkin Group and Saatmetrix have all weighed in, and each shed favorable light on Kaiser Permanente, among other plans.

J.D. Power released results from their eighth annual Member Health Plan Study, in which they provide member satisfaction index rankings by region. Their 2014 Member Health Plan Study is based on responses from more than 34,000 members of 136 commercial health plans across 18 regions in the United States. The study was fielded in December 2013 and January 2014.  

J.D. Power ranks satisfaction on a 1,000 point scale. Satisfaction is highest among health plan members in the California and Michigan regions (in a tie); the Indiana-Illinois and Mid-Atlantic regions (in a tie); and the East South Central and South Atlantic regions (in a tie). Satisfaction is lowest in the New England, New York-New Jersey and Southwest regions. 

Top ranked plans by region, according to the J.D. Power study, were compiled in healthsprocket, in these regional lists:

J.D. Power 2014 Member Health Plan Study: Top Plan Scores - Southern United Stated

  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (784) ranks highest among health plan members in the South Atlantic region (which includes Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina) for a fifth consecutive year
  • AvMed Health Plans and Humana (in a tie at 690 each) rank highest among health plan members in the Florida region, AvMed ranks highest in the Florida region for a third consecutive year
  • Cigna (689) ranks highest among health plan members in the East South Central region (which includes Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee)
  • Aetna (677) ranks highest among health plan members in the Texas region

J.D. Power 2014 Member Health Plan Study: Top Plan Scores - Eastern US

  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (732) ranks highest among health plan members in the Mid-Atlantic region (which includes Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.)
  • Capital District Physicians Health Plan (727) ranks highest among health plan members in the New York-New Jersey region
  • Geisinger Health Plan (705) ranks highest among health plan members in the Pennsylvania region for a third consecutive year
  • Tufts Associated Health Plans (681) ranks highest among health plan members in the New England region (which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont)

J.D. Power 2014 Member Health Plan Study: Top Plan Scores - Midwestern US

  • Health Alliance Plan of Michigan (711) ranks highest among health plan members in the Michigan region for a seventh consecutive year
  • Dean Health Plan (703) ranks highest among health plan members in the Minnesota-Wisconsin region
  • Medical Mutual of Ohio (697) ranks highest among health plan members in the Ohio region
  • Health Alliance Medical Plans (692) ranks highest among health plan members in the Indiana-Illinois region
  • Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa (680) ranks highest among health plan members in the Heartland region (which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma)

J.D. Power 2014 Member Health Plan Study: Top Plan Scores - Western US

  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan ranks highest among health plan members in the California region for a seventh consecutive year, with a score of 756
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (732) ranks highest among health plan members in the Northwest region region (which includes Oregon and Washington)
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (703) ranks highest among health plan members in the Colorado region for a seventh consecutive year
  • SelectHealth (698) ranks highest among health plan members in the Mountain region (which includes Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming) for a fifth consecutive year
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (675) ranks highest among health plan members in the Southwest region (which includes Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada

Temkin Group pronounced the health plan industry “mediocre” and bestowed the highest customer experience rankings to Kaiser Permanente and Humana respectively, in releasing results from their fourth annual ranking of companies based on a study of 10,000 U.S. consumers that “examines the quality of the customer experience delivered by 268 organizations across 19 industries: airlines, appliance makers, auto dealers, banks, car rental agencies, computer makers, credit card issuers, fast food chains, grocery chains, health plans, hotel chains, insurance carriers, Internet service providers, investment firms, parcel delivery services, retailers, software firms, TV service providers, and wireless carriers.”

Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group, tells us "consumers give pretty bad ratings to most health plans, as this entire industry needs a customer experience makeover.  Overall, the health plan industry averaged a 56% rating in their study and tied for 17th place out of 19 industries.

Temkin ratings by plans included in the survey were:

  1. Kaiser Permanente (68%)
  2. Humana (63%)
  3. Medicare (62%)
  4. TriCare (62%)
  5. United Healthcare (59%)
  6. Blue Shield of California (58%)
  7. Aetna (57%)
  8. Health Net (55%)
  9. CIGNA (54%)
  10. Anthem (BCBS) (53%)
  11. CareFirst (BCBS) (48%)
  12. Medicaid (45%)
  13. Highmark (BCBS) (44%)
  14. Empire (BCBS) (42%)
  15. Coventry Health Care (41%).

Temkin noted that Humana (+12 points), Blue Shield of California (+7 points), and United Healthcare (+5 points) improved the most between 2013 and 2014. Coventry Healthcare (BCBS) (-18 points), TriCare (-9 points), Empire (BCBS) (-7 points), and Highmark (BCBS) (-6 points) declined the most since 2013. Kaiser Permanente with their 68% rating, was in 109th place overall out of 268 organizations across 19 industries. Humana, with a rating of 63% placed 160th overall. Coventry Health Care (BCBS) was in last place across all 268 companies in the ratings with their score of 41%.

Satmetrix Systems released results for their 2014 Satmetrix® Net Promoter® Benchmarks which measure and rank customer loyalty more than 219 brands across 22 U.S. industry sectors, including financial services, insurance, technology, online services, retail stores, electronics, travel and hospitality, and telecommunications. The Satmetrix Net Promoter Benchmark rankings are based on survey responses from more than 24,000 U.S. consumers nationwide who indicated they had significant experience with a company's products or services in the previous 12 months. A company's Net Promoter Score is based on customers' likelihood to recommend the company's product or service. The score is the percentage of customers who are promoters, rating the company 9 or 10 on a 0 to 10 point scale, minus the percentage who are detractors, rating 6 or lower.

The Satmetrix study for the health insurance sector followed these nine companies:

  • Aetna
  • Anthem
  • BlueCross BlueShield of Florida
  • BlueCross BlueShield of California
  • Cigna
  • Humana
  • Kaiser
  • Medicare
  • United Healthcare

Like J.D. Power and Temkin, Satmetrix found Kaiser Permanente to be a dominant force, leading the health insurance category for the fourth consecutive year  and “improving to an all-time high [Net Promoter Score] score of 40 points. The provider rated highest on a number of important key loyalty drivers, as patients appreciated its service features, company reputation and the feeling that Kaiser Permanente acts in their personal best interest.” Kaiser’s score was 23 points higher than the industry average. Like Temkin, Satmetrix ranked Human in second place: “with a score of 32 points, Humana saw significant improvement from 2013, moving up 14 points to beat out last year's second place finisher, Medicare (27 points).”

Friday
Mar212014

Seated Behind a Health Plan Dashboard

By Clive Riddle, March 21, 2014

Spring has sprung, and if your fancy lightly turns to thoughts of health plans, and in fact you are driven towards such thoughts, a dashboard can be useful. You may be in luck, as Sherlock Company provides a summary from their health plan dashboard as part of their complementary publication, Plan Management Navigator.

Here’s what Sherlock Company reports in their just released March 2014 issue of the Navigator, about the trailing three months ended December 31, 2013, for health plans participating in their dashboard program. Health plans in their Dashboard universe are comprised of Blue Cross Blue Shield and Independent/ Provider-Sponsored Plans.

Health Plan reported “an increase in health revenues of 8.7%. Revenues for Medicaid grew most rapidly, increasing by 17.2%. Medicare Advantage revenue growth followed at 4.7%, while Indemnity product revenues increased 2.7%. ASO/ASC and Managed Care revenues fell by 6.2% and 4.3%, respectively. Overall, membership increased 1.1% for all health lines. Enrollment in Managed Care fell 1.1%, while increasing 1.6% for Indemnity. ASO/ASC membership declined 0.4%.”

“Membership grew in both Medicaid and Medicare by 4.6% and 4.2%, respectively. Both Managed Care and  Medicaid experienced the largest price increases, both at 3.5%. Indemnity followed with a price increase of 1.1%. Medicare Advantage products had a price decrease of 2.3%, while ASO/ASC posted a decline of 5.3%.”

“Health benefit ratios for health lines deteriorated by 2.0 percentage points to 90.0%. Managed Care and Indemnity had the largest increases of 5.4 percentage points and 4.5 percentage points, respectively. The number of scripts per person increased by 0.4 to 9.5 on an annualized basis. E/R visits per thousand members fell 13.4 to an annual rate of 241.8 per thousand, while hospital days also increased by 21.2 days to 335.1 days per thousand. The administrative expense to premium ratio increased 0.6 percentage points to 11.8%, while the administrative costs per member per month increased 2.3% to $34.76. Claims volumes increased 0.87 to 17.7 per member per year, while inquiries per member grew 0.34 to 1.9 per member per year. Staffing ratios fell 0.32 FTEs per 10,000 members to 21.1.”

You can click here if you’d like to subscribe to Sherlock Company’s complementary Plan Management Navigator, which includes additional articles full of great health plan data, benchmarks, and insights like those provided in the Dashboard Summary.

Wednesday
Mar122014

Content Marketing Dominates Social Media Trends in 2014 

By Claire Thayer, March 12, 2014

There continues to be a very strong focus on Content Marketing as a vehicle for educating current customers as well as for attracting new business opportunities. White papers and sponsored emails are considered the two top tactics for generating leads, along with sponsored webinars, according to a recent survey conducted by Business.com of more than 500 of its active pay-per-lead advertisers on questions related to lead generation tactics and strategies.  Specific to White Papers, more than 50 percent of those surveyed said white papers are a “valuable” or “extremely valuable” source of leads:

This week, Business 2 Community posted their 13 Social Media Marketing Trends in 2014, on the top of the list -- content marketing -- 

As you consider your White Paper strategy, here a few good resources that might be helpful:

We of course would love to engage with you in a conversation about our own ideas  to help you power your White Paper strategies! Drop your contact info here at any time and we’ll send you a few ideas to think about!

Tuesday
Mar112014

That's Not the Way I Always Heard It Should Be

by Kim Bellard, March 11, 2014

Now that the initial open enrollment period under ACA is drawing to a close, we’re starting to hear more about how the enrollment is going, and the news is not encouraging.

The Administration has touted that 4 million have gotten coverage through the exchanges – still several million short of their goals – but they claim to not know much about whether ACA’s impact on the uninsured rate.  Fortunately, outside organizations are helping to fill in some of the gaps. 

The McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform released the results of their individual market enrollment survey, with results from February 2014.  Only 27% of those who had obtained new coverage in 2014 reported having been previously uninsured.  Even more discouraging, only 10% percent of all previously uninsured now reported having coverage.  The faint sign of hope in the numbers is that both numbers are up sharply from previous surveys – 11% and 3%, respectively – but I doubt anyone who supported ACA’s passage thought they were signing up for only helping 10% of the uninsured.

Adding insult to injury, only three-quarters of those with new coverage reported actually having paid their premium, confirming reports that health insurers had warned about.  And that percentage was only 53% among the previously uninsured, which does not inspire much confidence that they will remain insured for very long.

Perceived affordability remains the key barrier to buying coverage, even though 80% of those citing it were actually eligible for subsides, a crucial fact that two-thirds were unaware of.

One glimmer of good news is that Gallup reports that the uninsured rate has, in fact, dropped, down to 15.9% (versus 17.1% in 4Q 2013).  To be fair, though, their results showed spikes in late 2013, and the 1Q 2014 results are on par with 1Q 2013 and 1Q 2011.  Coverage through an employer dropped two percentage points from 4Q 2013, while both individual coverage and coverage through Medicaid were up by slightly under 1%.  

The Urban Institute released their own survey results on ACA enrollment, conducted in December 2013.  Among all adults 18-64, 12% reported having looked for information on health plans in the marketplace (Orwellian for “exchanges”), with another 17% planning to do so.  More significantly, among the uninsured still only 19% had looked, another 33% thought they would look – and 23% had not heard about the marketplaces.  The comparable numbers for those below 138% of the federal poverty level were 13%, 25%, and 27%, respectively, highlighting that the most vulnerable groups are not getting the message.

The picture isn’t really rosy anywhere.  The people who were already in the individual market continue to be buffeted by changes in the rules of the road.  For example, there is Administration’s executive decision to allow subsidies for policies purchased outside the marketplaces, in recognition that some consumers may have been too frustrated by the marketplace websites to buy from them. 

Then there is the “bare bones plans” mess.  After the uproar last fall about people having to lose their health plans because they didn’t meet ACA minimum standards, the Administration belated announced a one year delay in the enforcement of those standards, and has just extended that delay for yet another year, potentially meaning they won’t apply until 2016.   

It’s anyone’s guess about what has happened with premiums in the individual market.  A recent analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in selected states found (with the exception of Alabama) more competitive markets and premiums, while a report from the Manhattan Institute last fall found an average increase of 41% (much due to benefit changes), and a study by the presumably objective Society of Actuaries last spring also expected significant increases, especially for younger consumers.

Any employer with a health plan or 401k plan – or any state Medicaid director – could have warned us that voluntary enrollment typically leaves lots of eligible people not taking action..  We should have taken the approach many 401k plans have adopted – “automatic enrollment.” Driven by disappointing participation in 401k plans, the federal law was changed to allow employers to automatically enroll employees in their 401k plan, with a default contribution rate.  Employees could still opt-out, or change the default contribution level, but employers have found that participation rates are higher and average contribution rates are higher under this approach.  What’s not to like?

This post is an abridged version of the posting in Kim Bellard’s blogsite. Click here to read the full posting

Friday
Mar072014

How do you Define Population Health?

By Clive Riddle, March 7, 2014

This week, the inaugural issue of Population Health News was published. In their Thought Leaders Corner, a number of members of their national advisory board answered the question – how do you define population health? Here’s what the experts had to say:

Fred Goldstein, M.S., Founder and President of Accountable Health, LLC; and Executive Director of Population Health Alliance says “A population health management program is one that strives to address health needs at all points along the continuum of health and well-being through the participation of, engagement with and targeted interventions for the population. The goal of a population health management program is to maintain or improve the physical and psychosocial well-being of individuals through cost-effective and tailored health solutions.” (Fred cites this description is from Population Health Alliance, formerly the Care Continuum Alliance)

Thomas Graf, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Population Health and Longitudinal Care Service Lines at Geisinger Health System offers this definition:  “Population health is the ability to define and understand the health status of every individual patient and proactively deploy medical resources to support those patients, whether it is to push resource to them where they are, or effectively connect them to the optimal resource in a patient specific manner, accelerated by technology.”

Paul Grundy, M.D., MPH, FACOEM, FACPM, the Global Director of Healthcare Transformation for IBM and President of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) elaborates that  “population Health is ‘the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.’ For me, the ability to deliver population health requires a place in the delivery system that acts as the system integrator where the data flow about the population and is held accountable. We ask the house of primary care to give us a set of principles for this system integrator that is known as the patient-centered medical home (PCMH).  The medical home is defined as a ‘healthcare setting that facilitates partnerships between individual patients and their personal providers and when appropriate, a patient’s family. It lies at the center of the effort to address population health through the provision of integrated and coordinated, team-based care. It is a delivery organization that fosters clinician-led primary care with comprehensive, accessible, holistic and evidence-based coordination and management. PCMH builds the infrastructure through which data flow and is held accountable as the system integrator for POPULATION HEALTH.”

David Nash M.D., MBA, Founding Dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health at Thomas Jefferson University observes that "population health recognizes that the social determinants of healthcare, like poverty and education, are the key drivers of a society's well-being. Medical care is responsible for 15% of a society's quality of life.”

Vince Kuraitis, J.D., MBA, Principal and Founder of Better Health Technologies, LLC explains that “definitions of population health usually focus on improving the health and health outcomes of a population. That said, the understanding and point of view of population health managers will vary greatly. Consider three highly variable factors in populations: 1. What's the COMPOSITION of YOUR POPULATION? The answer will vary depending upon whether you are a health plan, a physician practice, an employer or the government. 2. How STABLE is your population? How long do you expect it to remain with you? If you are a health plan, you will expect 18% to 20% annual churn in membership and an average tenure of around three years. If you are Medicare, your members will be with you for the rest of their lives. 3. Are you at FINANCIAL RISK for the health of your population? Upside risk? Downside risk? What are the details?   These factors will affect the economics of a population and in turn, the type and timing of potential interventions. Population managers will consider ROI as a primary metric for evaluating success. While this might seem narrow, it's very real. For example, if you are a health plan, you are more likely to invest in a congestive heart failure disease management program that has potential to identify patients and interventions that will keep patients from being admitted to a hospital within the next one to three years. If you are Medicare, you might consider a diabetes prevention that promises to reduce eye or foot problems over the course of 15 years.”

Finally, Al Lewis, Founder and President of the Disease Management Purchasing Consortium International, Inc. informs us that “population health is the provision of free (or financially incentivized) health-related tests, education and support services to groups who are (rightly or wrongly) believed—due to demographics, claims history or even company/health plan policy—to be at risk for chronic disease or chronic disease exacerbations absent those interventions, whether or not such interventions are requested by the employee or member.”

The second issue of Population Health News will include additional responses from Population Health Thought Leaders. Stay tuned.