Health insurance satisfaction hasn’t been this high in a decade

Health insurance is a contentious topic, and everyone seems to have an opinion. The constant fear of rising premium costs doesn’t help matters.

So the fact that health insurance has an ACSI score of 74 – placing it in the bottom 10% of all industries measured – makes sense. However, what’s surprising this year is the score represents a rise of 1.4% to its highest level in a decade.

How did this happen, and what are some insurance companies doing to separate themselves from the pack? Let’s look.

Health care above all else

The lines between providing insurance and providing health care are beginning to blur. Insurers are prioritizing preventative care over emergent care. Companies like Humana are really taking this idea to heart.

Humana has a mail-order pharmacy, over 230 owned or alliance primary care operations, and a large home health care provider in Kindred at Home. Humana is also investing in digital technologies, including a multiyear partnership with Microsoft that’s all about “making health care experiences simpler to navigate” for its members.

Policyholders are taking notice of Humana’s efforts. Not only does the company lead all health insurers with an ACSI score of 79 (up 1%), but it also rates best in class for half of all industry benchmarks.

Like Humana, CVS Health’s Aetna, which inches up 1% to 76, is also embracing the use of technology to enhance health care. Aetna launched Attain, an Apple Watch app that lets Aetna members track their daily activity levels, offers personalized goals, suggests healthy actions, and rewards members for taking steps to improve their health.

The success of these companies’ digital initiatives is clear in the industry-wide customer experience benchmarks, where two elements stand above the rest: quality of mobile app (up 4% to 81) and reliability of mobile app (up 1% to 80).

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Companies struggling to keep up

Unfortunately, not all insurance companies are keeping up with patients’ growing technological demands.

Cigna, which drops 1% to 72, ranks near the bottom of the industry for both mobile quality and reliability. Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) rises 1% to an ACSI score of 71 yet finishes with the lowest score among health insurance companies. That’s due in part to poor scores for mobile reliability, perceived value, and billing.

Significant room for improvement

When it comes to the quality and reliability of mobile apps, Cigna and BCBS are anomalies. At the industry level, these benchmarks are distinguished among customer experiences.

Benchmarks like access to primary care doctors (79), access to specialty care doctors (78), standard medical services coverage (78) and expanded prescription drug coverage (77) are also contributing to the slight satisfaction rise in the industry.

However, while health insurance satisfaction is the highest it’s been in 10 years, in terms of ACSI standards, it remains much closer to the bottom of all industries measured. Suffice to say, it’s not all sunshine and roses for the insurance industry.

Insurance statements are still difficult to understand (75), the variety of available plans (75) could be better, and the timeliness of claims processing (75) still leaves much to be desired. And despite a 3% bump, call centers continue to be the worst aspect of policyholder experience with an ACSI score of 73.

So while customer satisfaction with health insurers is on a slight upswing, it has a long way to go.

The simple fact remains: The health insurance market is transforming, and companies that make patient health their main priority will succeed. Personalized plans, easier access to primary and specialty care doctors, and a focus on enhancing digital methods are good places to start.

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