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J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Satisfaction with Health Plans is Notably Lower among Individual Purchasers and Small Employer Members

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Health plan members who individually purchase their plans or work for small employers are considerably less satisfied with their health plan experience, compared with health plan members who work for larger organizations, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Health Insurance Plan Study(SM) released today.


Now in its third year, the study measures member satisfaction among 131 health plans in 17 regions throughout the United States by examining seven key factors: coverage and benefits; provider choice; information and communication; claims processing; statements; customer service; and approval processes.

The study finds that health plan members working for small employers (50 employees or fewer) are less likely to be satisfied with their health plan than those working for larger organizations. Satisfaction among members working for small employer groups averages 692 on a 1,000-point scale, while members of health plans sponsored by large employers (501-5,000 employees) and jumbo employers (more than 5,000 employees) have satisfaction levels averaging 717 and 725, respectively. Health plan members working for larger organizations are also more likely to re-enroll and recommend their plan to others, compared with members working for small employers.

Satisfaction among individual purchasers, which account for 9 percent of health plan members, is comparable to that among members of plans sponsored by small employers, averaging 694 points. Likewise, among individual purchasers, likelihood to re-enroll, recommend and purchase other products is lower compared with members working for larger organizations.

"As unemployment rates rise across the nation, more members are moving to individual health plans from employer-sponsored plans," said Jim Dougherty, executive director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "By more effectively managing the member experience for this growing segment of members, health plans could reap considerable financial benefits through increased retention and recommendations, and prepare themselves for the anticipated healthcare reform measures facing the industry, which are likely to drive additional enrollment among previously uncovered individuals and small employers."

Health plans ranking highest in their respective regions are (in alphabetical order): Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kentucky; BlueCross and BlueShield of Alabama (these two plans tie in the East South Central region); BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona; BlueCross BlueShield of Florida; BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois; BlueCross BlueShield of Nebraska; Dean Health Insurance; Harvard Pilgrim Health Care; Health Alliance Plan (HAP); Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield; HIP Health Plan of New York; Humana (which ranks highest in the South Atlantic and Texas regions); Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (which ranks highest in the California, Colorado, Northwest and Virginia-Maryland regions); and Medical Mutual of Ohio.

The study also finds that--while satisfaction levels have increased significantly from 2008 in the New England, South Atlantic, California, Arizona-Utah and Illinois-Indiana regions--health plan members in the New England, Michigan, Pennsylvania-Delaware, California and South Atlantic regions are the most satisfied overall.

"Across the industry, satisfaction with health plans remains fairly stable, increasing only slightly compared to 2008," said Dougherty. "Members still tend to be least satisfied with the information and communications they receive from their health plan--the third-most-important factor in overall satisfaction. Consequently, improving member communications can go a long way in driving higher levels of overall member satisfaction--particularly since only one-third of members say they fully understand how their health plans work."

The 2009 National Health Insurance Plan Study includes responses from more than 33,000 members of commercial health plans. Members were surveyed online in December 2008 and January 2009. For more comprehensive health plan rankings for all 17 U.S. markets, visit

    Regions Included in National Health Insurance Plan Study
    East South Central (includes Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee)
    Heartland (includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska)
    New England (includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island
    and Vermont)
    New York-New Jersey
    Northwest (includes Idaho, Oregon and Washington)
    South Atlantic (includes Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina)

    Top Three Plans in Overall Member Satisfaction by Region
    Highest: BlueCross  BlueShield of Arizona

    Highest: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan

    Highest: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan

    East South Central
    Highest: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kentucky (tie)
    Highest: BlueCross Blue Shield of Alabama (tie)

    Highest: BlueCross BlueShield of Florida

    Highest: BlueCross BlueShield of Nebraska
    BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas
    Wellmark BlueCross BlueShield of Iowa

    Highest: BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois
    Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Indiana

    Highest: Health Alliance Plan (HAP)
    BlueCross BlueShield of Michigan

    Highest: Dean Health Insurance
    BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota

    New England
    Highest: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
    Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Connecticut
    Tufts Associated Health Plans

    New York-New Jersey
    Highest: HIP Health Plan
    Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
    Empire BlueCross BlueShield

    Highest: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan
    Group Health Cooperative
    Providence Health Plan

    Highest: Medical Mutual of Ohio
    Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ohio

    Highest: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
    Highmark Blue Shield
    Capital BlueCross

    South Atlantic
    Highest: Humana
    BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina

    Highest: Humana

    Highest: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan
    CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

    *No other plan in this region performs above the region average.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP) is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2008 were $6.4 billion. Additional information is available at

Media Relations Contacts:

Jeff Perlman; Brandware Public Relations; Malibu, Calif.; (310) 589-7749;

John Tews; J.D. Power and Associates; Troy, Mich.; (248) 312-4119;

Syvetril Perryman; J.D. Power and Associates; Westlake Village, Calif.; (805) 418-8103;

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates.

SOURCE J.D. Power and Associates
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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