Bad news/good news: Americans still hate their health plans, but a little less than before

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Annoyed-man

Health plans, apparently, could stand to learn a few things from Publix and Trader Joe’s. The grocery chains garnered the top customer experience ratings in a new survey in which health plans as an industry ranked second to last. Although insurers seem to be investing more now than ever in improving the customer experience, the survey implies they still have a long way to go.

The 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings survey asked 10,000 American consumers to rate their recent experiences with hundreds of companies across 19 industries.  Only TV service providers received lower ratings than health plans.

Tricare, the health program of U.S. military personnel and retirees, and Kaiser Permanente emerged as the leaders in the health plan category, which included 15 payers including Aetna, Anthem, CIGNA, Highmark, Humana and Medicare. Thirteen of the 15 plans scored average ratings that fell in the “poor” or “very poor” categories, with Empire (BCBS) and Medicaid landing near the bottom.

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The silver lining, according to Bruce Temkin, managing partner of customer experience research and consulting firm Temkin Group, is that the industry’s ratings have consistently improved over the last three years, from a 50.3 percent satisfaction rating in 2011 to 54.8 percent in 2013. That’s at least some notable progress as health exchanges and other parts of healthcare reform have upped competition among payers and pushed them to focus more on providing better customer service.

In the survey, consumers were asked to rate their recent interactions with companies in functional, accessible and emotional terms. Tricare topped health insurers in functionality and emotional experience while Kaiser Permanente — no strangers to accolades in consumer satisfaction and loyalty surveys — garnered top marks in accessibility.

Here’s how the health insurance industry stacked up to its consumer-facing brethren:

2013 Temkin Experience Ratings

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Deanna Pogorelc

By Deanna Pogorelc MedCity News

Deanna Pogorelc is a Cleveland-based reporter who writes obsessively about life science startups across the country, looking to technology transfer offices, startup incubators and investment funds to see what’s next in healthcare. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University and previously covered business and education for a northeast Indiana newspaper.
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