Another sign of the continuing need for communications, particularly amongst providers of Consumer Directed Healthcare and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) is shown in the latest J.D. Powers surveys.
The report says that health plan performance varies widely among some insurers across the U.S.
However, contacting plan members regularly and increasing their understanding of plan details can lead to more consistent and positive satisfaction ratings.
Some insurers have complained about the need to spend more time with clients switching to HSAs.
The study clearly shows that more renewal business and additional sales of services to members can result from additional hand holding.
The overall findings from the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 National Health Insurance Plan Study details the correlation.
Now in its second year, the study measures member satisfaction among 107 health plans in 17 regions throughout the U.S. by examining seven key factors: coverage and benefits; choice of doctors, hospitals and pharmacies; information and communication; approval processes; claims processing; insurance statements; and customer service.
The study finds that the majority of health plan members rate their insurer lowest for the communications and information that are provided to help them understand their plan.
Only 45 percent of members reported they fully understand how to use their health insurance coverage and member services.
Enhancing member understanding with critical plan details—such as prescription coverage, co-pays, how to locate physicians and how to appeal coverage denials—can lead to higher satisfaction ratings for insurers.
“Health insurer performance fluctuates greatly—even among different regional plans from the same insurance company—and this lack of service consistency can present a real challenge for human resources executives attempting to select the best health benefits for their employees working in multiple regions across the country,” said Jim Dougherty, executive director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates.
“With increasing healthcare costs and an aging workforce that needs additional services, businesses have less and less tolerance for insurers that aren’t consistently engaging members and helping them manage their own health care and the associated costs.
However, we find that those plan members who are most engaged by their insurer through effective communication better understand how to use their plans and have particularly high satisfaction levels. Those higher satisfaction scores translate into better retention rates and more positive recommendations for the plan.”