When it comes to customer satisfaction, COVID-19 raised the stakes, with consumers quickly becoming accustomed to having retailers and other service providers respond to their needs as rapidly as possible.
That need for customer satisfaction spread into other areas, including health insurance. A panel of analysts discussed the findings of a recent customer satisfaction survey during a webinar held by America’s Health Insurance Plans.
HealthEdge conducted a survey asking health insurance consumers how satisfied they are with their plans. The survey found that consumer expectations are being shaped by their experiences with retailers, said Christine Davis, HealthEdge senior vice president of marketing.
“I think COVID-19 increased consumers’ expectations,” she said.
HealthEdge surveyed consumers who are enrolled in individual plans, employer-sponsored plans, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as those who are dual eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. The survey found that only 45% of those surveyed said they are fully satisfied with their plan, but satisfaction levels were significantly higher among those who had a care manager involved with their health plan.
The survey also found that:
Customer service and self-service tools were named as the top enablers of customer satisfaction.
Adhering to a customer’s communication preference goes a long way in impacting customer satisfaction.
Consumers expect their health plans to leverage social determinants of health data to deliver more personalized services.
Consumers trust their health plans, but they place the blame on payers for the high cost of health care.
The current state of customer satisfaction
Consumers who are dual eligible had the highest rate of satisfaction with their plans, the survey showed, with 52% of dual eligible respondents saying they are fully satisfied. Medicaid and Medicare came in next, with 44% of respondents who are enrolled either in Medicaid or Medicare saying they are fully satisfied. Only 39% of those who are enrolled in employer-sponsored coverage said they are fully satisfied with their plan.
But member satisfaction rises when a care manager is involved. About two-thirds (66%) of dual-eligible respondents who had a care manager said they were extremely satisfied, as opposed to 42% of dual-eligible who did not have a care manager.
The role of communication
Customers want their health plans to communicate with them in a mix of ways, the survey found.
Survey respondents said they want the ability to communicate with their health plans through a variety of channels, including telephone, email, text and mobile apps.
“It’s about where and when they can communicate for the best convenience of the member,” Davis said.
Care managers and social determinants increase customer satisfaction
Those who have care managers indicated a high rate of satisfaction with them. More then 9 out of 10 (92%) said their care managers have adequate information about them.
More than half (52%) who have a care manager said they are extremely satisfied with the way their manager provides them access to provider options. However, nearly that same percentage (54%) said the way their manager provides referrals to community and social resources needs improvement.
Survey respondents had mixed responses regarding their satisfaction over their health plans’ use of social determinants of health.
More than half (56%) said they were extremely satisfied with the way their plan provides individualized services based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion. However, more than half (57%) said the way their plan provides access to essentials such as food, housing, utilities or transportation needs improvement. Nearly the same percentage (56%) said the way their plan provides services based on the location in which they live needs improvement.
How plans can improve customer satisfaction
Three themes on how health plans can improve customer satisfaction arose from the survey. Those themes are: personalization, customer service and empowerment.
Survey respondents said they want their health plans to provide incentives and rewards for healthy behavior, easy access to health records, access to providers based on personal traits, good customer service and tools to help customers find less costly care.
What matters most in selecting a health plan differs by generations, the survey showed.
For younger generations, the plan with the lowest costs was the most important factor in choosing a plan. The least important factor was keeping their current doctors.
Low costs were also the most important factor for those in middle generations. But incentives for healthy behaviors were the least important factor in choosing a health plan.
For older generations, keeping their doctors was the most important factor, while low costs were the least important.
When it comes to the cost of health care, the survey showed generations also differ in their opinions of who is responsible for high costs.
Those who are 18-34 years old are more likely than their older counterparts to blame doctors for high health care costs. The 45- to 54-year-old age group is more likely to blame health insurance companies. Those who are age 55 and older are more likely than their younger counterparts to put the onus on pharmaceutical companies.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents’ association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at Susan.Rupe@innfeedback.com. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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