Entries in health plans (31)

Friday
Oct102014

Study on Health Plan Shopping – Reluctants, Premiums and Defaulters

By Clive Riddle, October 10, 2014

Vitals – who provide a consumer health information platform including doctor ratings and reviews, has released a study on health plan shoppers in open enrollment season, and lumping many of the shoppers into three categories: (1) The Reluctant; (2) The Premium; and (3) The Defaulter. Vitals study was based on their August online survey of 1,000 adults.

The big takeaways from their survey?

  • 80 percent of respondents said they were not planning to switch their insurance this year.
  • More than 1 in 5 are dissatisfied with their plan.
  • Nearly one-third said they were unhappy with the value for cost of their plan.
  • 27 percent were unhappy with customer support services
  • 9 percent were unhappy with the lack of quality network doctors and hospitals

So what the heck are Vitals’ trio of Reluctants, Premiums and Defaulters?

Vitals classifies Reluctants as age 30-44 with no dependents and household income under $25k, who are satisfied with their plan provider network but not the plan value. Vitals says “the Reluctant doesn’t want to buy insurance and isn’t satisfied with their plan – if they even have one. They’re more likely to have an HMO to keep costs down, but still say they’re not getting a good value for cost. Over 1 in 4 will switch their health plan during open enrollment this year. Their main gripe: Cost. They index higher for cost increases over the past year and report being surprised more by health care costs this year, compared to last year.”

Vitals classifies Premiums as age 45-60 with dependents and household income over $100k, who also are happiest with the network and unhappiest with plan value. Vitals tells us “the Premium is most likely to have Cadillac-like coverage for their health care. They index higher for employer-provided health care and PPO-type plans, which offer the most flexibility. Premium shoppers are most likely to say they’re happy with their health insurance – only 5 percent will switch during open enrollment! And they uniformly agree they have adequate access to medical care.”

Finally, Vitals classifies Defaulters as any age adult (but often age 60+) with no dependents and household income of $50 - $99k. They define the Defaulter as someone “on cruise control and typically doesn’t review or change their plan from year to year.”

Friday
Sep192014

Humana Study on Workplace Wellness: It’s not just ROI

By Clive Riddle, September 19, 2014 

Humana has just published a 22 page report Measuring wellness: From data to insights which based on their study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, examining “why companies implement workplace wellness, how data influences these programs and identifies obstacles that inhibit program participation.” The study surveyed 225 U.S.-based executives and 630 full-time employees from organizations with workplace wellness programs. 

Beth Bierbower, President of Humana’s Employer Group Segment, tells us “It’s interesting to validate that employers now view ROI as an important, but not exclusive or even primary measure of a wellness program’s success. Employers are now seeing that employee health is important beyond health care costs, it has profound impacts on productivity, retention, workplace engagement and morale.” The report states that instead of asking about ROI, “perhaps the question should be, ‘do we improve health at a reasonable price’ as opposed to ‘do we save money by doing so.’” 

Here are some key findings highlighted from the study:

  • Nearly 70 percent of executives consider their organization’s wellness program to be cost effective, even though not all of the outcomes are measurable.
  • While 86 percent of executives say improving employee health as an indirect driver of productivity, morale and engagement is their top reason for implementing a wellness program, cost factors are still important, including reducing employee health care costs (66 percent) and controlling medical claims (48 percent).
  • About 30 percent of employees rate subsidized gym memberships, onsite health and wellness facilities, and budgeted wellness activity time during business hours, as the three most important services that would motivate participation.          
  • 64 percent of employees have used fitness devices to monitor health and capture data, but only 19 percent use them regularly.         
  • Two-thirds of executives feel data collection and interpretation is the biggest challenge confronting effective workplace wellness.         
  • 53% of survey respondents say their organization collects health-related employee data as part of its wellness program
  • The biggest disconnects between executives and employees regarding their perceptions of obstacles to employee participation in wellness programs, were in regards to the statements: “Employees don’t perceive health and wellness as a high priority” (30% of executives agreed vs. 2% of employees); “Employees are concerned that personal information will not remain confidential (43% of executives agreed vs. 27% of employees); and “Employees distrust employer motives” (24% of executives agreed vs. 11% of employees.)     
Thursday
May012014

Humana Study Measures Claims Costs and Absence Rate by level of Wellness Program Engagement

By Clive Riddle, May 2, 2014

Humana has released findings from their HumanaVitality Health Claims and Productivity Impact Study of Humana employees. HumanaVitality is a joint venture between Humana Inc. and Discovery Holdings, Ltd. That serves 3.5+ million members and “is a data-driven wellness and rewards program that motivates members to make healthier life choices.”

Humana touts that “the two-year study found improved health, as shown through lower health care costs and fewer unscheduled absences, among employees who actively participated in the HumanaVitality program.”

Here’s their specific findings:

  • Unengaged members in both years averaged $53 more per month spent on health care claims than members who were engaged in HumanaVitality both years.
  • The largest impact on health care costs was on members with lifestyle-related chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Engaged members with these conditions had 60 percent lower health claims costs than unengaged members with these conditions.
  • Another way of stating this: Unengaged members with lifestyle-related chronic conditions had 101% higher claims costs than the total population, while engaged members with these chronic conditions had 41% higher claims costs than the total population
  • Unscheduled absences were 56.3 percent higher among unengaged members in both years than engaged members
  • Members who were unengaged the first year but engaged the second year had 29% higher unscheduled absence and an average of $28 per month in claims costs than members who engaged both years

Humana shared this about the study methodology: “This study was performed on a cohort of Humana associates that were on a Humana employee medical health plan for a full 12 months in at least two consecutive plan years over the study period. The study was conducted by Humana actuaries for the following time period: Baseline Year (July 2010 – June 2011), Year 1 of the HumanaVitality program (July 2011 – June 2012) and Year 2 of the HumanaVitality program (July 2012 – June 2013). Only Humana employees were included in the study; individuals with high cost claims (>= $ 150,000 in the Baseline Year, Year 1 or Year 2) were removed from the sample. The final sample size was 13,046 members in the Year 1 analysis and 16,296 members in the Year 2 analysis.”

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).”

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