Managed care organizations have work to do the improve employers’ satisfaction with their services, a new study found.
If the health plans fail to increase their levels of group benefit buyers satisfaction they may risk using that business, the study, by J.D. Power reported.
The landscape for group benefit coverage is changing, the report noted. “With such alternative healthcare purchasing choices as public and private exchanges—or cutting coverage altogether —taking shape among employers, health plans risk losing group business unless they improve employer satisfaction,” according to the results of the study.
If the health plans fail to increase their levels of group benefit buyers’ satisfaction they may risk using that business, the study, by J.D. Power reported.
The landscape for group benefit coverage is changing, the report noted. “With such alternative healthcare purchasing choices as public and private exchanges—or cutting coverage altogether—taking shape among employers, health plans risk losing group business unless they improve employer satisfaction,” according to the results of the study.
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The J.D. Power 2013 Employer Health Plan StudySM measures six key factors that affect employer satisfaction with health plans: employee plan service experience; account servicing; program offerings; benefit design; problem resolution; and cost.
Although many of the health plans fail to make the grade, the study identified payers that do. Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) ranks highest in satisfaction among fully insured employers; Cigna ranks highest among self-funded employers, the report said.
Health payers are ranked in two employer segments: fully insured employers (health plan assumes the risk of providing health coverage for insured events); and self-funded employers (employers bear the risk associated with offering health benefits).
“Health plans need to understand the importance of satisfaction in order to limit the erosion of their business from employer-sponsored coverage to alternative channels where employees have more choices,” said Richard Millard, J. D. Power senior director of the healthcare practice.
The study found that among fully insured employers, satisfaction averages  709 (on a 1,000-point scale) while satisfaction averages 696 among self-funded employers. Satisfaction across all factors among employers that do not intend to offer coverage five years from now is at least 76-points lower than employers who intend to offer coverage.
“Those health plans that focus on closing the satisfaction gap across key performance factors are more likely to retain employer-sponsored group contracts,” Millard observed.
Employer satisfaction with program offerings, such as preventive health programs, disease management or wellness initiatives, is a key area of differentiation for both the fully insured and self-funded segments, the study report said.
Cost is an important driver of satisfaction, said the report. Cost satisfaction among employers that indicate they intend to continue sponsoring coverage in the future is 106 points higher than among those that intend to drop coverage (696 vs. 590, respectively). Satisfaction with cost is improving as more consumer driven high-deductible plans are offered to employees, which 82 percent of employers indicate are controlling costs.
Some 5,857 employers responded to the 2013 Employer Health Plan Study. The study set quotas to assure an adequate distribution of small, medium and large companies. The study was conducted in April and May 2013.