Entries in health plans (28)

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

Friday
Oct112013

Health Insurance Marketplace Opening Week Enrollment

By Clive Riddle, October 11, 2013

The opening bell sounded, and public exchanges were open for business on October 1st amidst much noise about startup glitches. Health Insurance Marketplace News, in its current issue, provided the following infographic providing opening week enrollment and volume statistics for selected exchanges:


The newsletter also provided these links to releases from these exchanges with further details about their opening week activity, and the length of time the infographic data represented for each exchange:

Press Release, Covered California

Data through October 5, 2013

Press Release, Connect for Health Colorado

Data for October 1st and 2nd 2013

Press Release, Access Health CT-stats 10/8

Data through October 8, 2013

Press Release, Hawai'i Health Connector 10/2

Data through October 2, 2013

Press Release, New York Health Benefit Exchange 10/8

Data Through October 8, 2013

Press Release, Washington Healthplanfinder 10/7

Data through October 7, 2013

Taking a deeper  look at Covered California for example, we compiled the following additional statistics from their release:

  • Average wait time: 15:08 *
  • Average handling time: 16:48
  • % Applications only partially completed: 62.6%
  • Number of Californians determined eligible for coverage: 28,699
  • Small Business Health Options Program businesses registered as of 10/8/2013: 430
  • *Average wait time was reduced to less than four minutes by Friday, 10/4/2013

It will be quite interesting to see what data becomes available for the full month of October, after month end.

Friday
Jun282013

Consumer More Generous This Year with Expressing Health Plan Satisfaction

By Clive Riddle, June 28, 2013

J.D. Power has just released their excellent annual Health Plan Study of Satisfaction.  I got a different major takeaway from the study than did the folk at J.D. Power, although I also agree with their conclusions. Their take is in the context of the impending health exchange environment: “With such alternative healthcare purchasing choices as public and private exchanges--or cutting coverage altogether--taking shape among employers, health plans risk losing group business unless they improve employer satisfaction.” 

 

The J.D. Power study “is based on responses from 5,857 employers, with quotas to assure an adequate distribution of small, medium and large companies. The study was fielded in April and May 2013. …The study, now in its fourth year, measures six key factors that affect employer satisfaction with health plans: employee plan service experience; account servicing; program offerings; benefit design; problem resolution; and cost. Health plans are ranked in two employer segments: fully insured employers (health plan assumes the risk of providing health coverage for insured events); and self-funded employers (employers bear the risk associated with offering health benefits).”

 

Richard Millard, J.D. Power’s senior director of the healthcare practice  tells us “health plans need to understand the importance of satisfaction in order to limit the erosion of their business from employer-sponsored coverage to alternative channels where employees have more choices. Those health plans that focus on closing the satisfaction gap across key performance factors are more likely to retain employer-sponsored group contracts."

 

J.D. Power notes that “nearly one-fifth (15%) of employers say they "definitely will not" or "probably will not" continue sponsoring coverage in five years. Among employers in both segments, there is a 90-point gap in overall satisfaction scores between employers that intend to offer coverage in the future and those that intend to discontinue coverage.”

 

They go on to point out that “in both the fully insured and self-funded segments, employer satisfaction with program offerings, such as preventive health programs, disease management or wellness initiatives, is a key area of differentiation between employers that intend to offer coverage in the future and those that intend to drop coverage.  In the program offerings factor, the gap in satisfaction scores between fully insured employers that intend to offer coverage in the future and those that intend to drop coverage is 104 points--705 among employers that intend to offer coverage, compared with 601 among those that intend to drop coverage. Among self-funded employers, the gap in satisfaction scores between those that intend to offer coverage in the future and those that intend to drop coverage is also 105 points--689 among employers that intend to offer coverage, compared with 584 among those that intend to drop coverage.”

 

All good point as 2014 hovers over health plans. But what I found interesting was that health plan satisfaction scores improved significantly almost across the board for plans, compared to their 2012 study. I compiled their 2012 results with the current results J.D Power made available:

 

Overall Customer Satisfaction Index Scores
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Fully Insured Employer Segment

2013

2012

HCSC

741

697

Cigna

737

689

Kaiser

737

718

Aetna

724

670

Fully Insured Segment Average

709

675

WellPoint/Anthem

707

658

UnitedHealthcare

703

663

Humana

693

691

     

Self-Funded Employer Segment

Cigna

707

643

Self-Funded Segment Average

696

665

Aetna

694

682

WellPoint/Anthem

692

631

UnitedHealthcare

669

662

 

What is the cause of the rise in satisfaction? The 2011 overall rate full insured was 696, so the rate dropped in 2012, and rebounded even higher in 2013. What are the implications of this improvement in satisfaction as the health exchange landscape takes shape?

Here’s a graphic J.D. Power provided on fully insured satisfaction results:

Friday
Mar082013

High Deductible PPO Plans Versus CDHPs

By Clive Riddle, March 8, 2013

United Benefit Advisors has just released results of their annual health plan survey, with responses from 11,711 employers sponsoring 17,905 health plans nationwide, with results applicable for small to midsize companies. The survey includes a focus on Consumer Driven Health Plan (CDHP) vs. PPO comparisons of premiums, deductibles and enrollment. Their study found that “Consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) -- high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) often paired with health savings accounts (HSAs) or health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) -- are not achieving long-term savings greater than what would be reached by raising the deductible on traditional PPOs.”

Unlike most national large employer benefit consulting firms, UBA – whose survey concentrated on smaller firms – is not bullish on account based plans, and would rather place their bets on straight PPO plans with a higher deductible. Although one could argue, it might be easy to make a stripped down high deductible PPO health plan yield immediate lower costs than a CDHP that has account administration costs, up-front wellness benefits and other bells and whistles. That doesn’t necessarily mean the PPO HDHP would be the best long term solution for an employer’s and employee’s objectives, unless immediate premium costs is the only concern.

UBA CEI Thom Mangan tells us “Employers are turning to CDHPs as a cost-cutting solution against the relentless upward spiral of health care costs. However, our research shows that small-to midsize businesses in particular, who may be considering these plans may first want to consider increasing the deductible on the plans they already have to achieve the same initial savings. Or, prior to implementing a CDHP plan, employers should build a culture of health and wellness in their workplace that drives employee behavior towards quality, low cost medical care and prescription drugs.”

Here’s some of the data UBA has shared from their findings:

  • Nearly 60 percent of the 11,711 employers surveyed said they plan to offer a CDHP in the next five years
  • PPOs remain the dominant plan type with 61.7 percent of U.S. employee enrollment
  • The greatest savings of a PPO over a CDHP was achieved with a deductible of $2,000-$2,999, where PPO cost per employee was $7,811 and CDHP was $8,859, a savings of $1,000 per employee.
  • Savings created by CDHPs over the plans they were replacing or HSA, averaged 1.75 percent in 2012, a significant reduction from prior years.
  • Enrollment also decreased to 15.6 percent (a 1.8 percent decrease from 2011), and nationwide enrollment among employers with 1,000 or more employees dropped substantially from 15.9 percent in 2011 to 11.3 percent in 2012.
  • The area of the country that has seen the biggest increase in CDHP growth is Minnesota, which saw the percent of employees enrolled in CDHPs increase from 15.5 percent in 2010 to 37.1 percent in 2012, a rate 18.4 percent higher than the national average in those same years.
  • Other areas with rapid CDHP growth include Indiana, Virginia and the Northeast region. The only western state to see CDHP popularity increase was Oregon, where percent of employees enrolled in CDHPs increased from 12 percent in 2010 to 20.3 percent in 2012.
  • Overall, CDHP enrollment in the west is the lowest in the country with only 7.7 percent of employees covered, a slight increase from 7 percent in 2011 and 4.6 percent in 2010. HMOs account for 31.3 percent of the market in the west.