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Nonprofit Health Plans Edge For-Profits in Customer Satisfaction

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, March 20, 2013

While consumers continue to give low satisfaction ratings to health plans in general, they assign higher marks to nonprofit health plans, according a recent survey.

J.D. Power and Associates released its annual 2013 Member Health Plan Study for the seventh time last week. It surveyed more than 33,000 members belonging to 136 commercial health plans across the U.S.

Rick Millard, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates says on the whole, nonprofit companies, such as Kaiser and some Blue Cross Blue Shield licensees received higher satisfaction ratings than for-profit plans.

"This year, the for-profits are essentially all below average, and that's kind of a pattern we've seen for a while," says Millard.

The nonprofit Kaiser Foundation Health Plans was a top-ranked health plan in seven states as well as Washington D.C. Only two for-profit health plans received a top ranking: Anthem Health Plans of New Hampshire in the New England region and UnitedHealthcare in Ohio.

The study ranks health plans by region, though there are some states that are not included in the survey, such as Hawaii, because there is too little competition (only two health plans operate Hawaii: Kaiser Permanente and Hawaii Medical Service Association). The study analyzed health plans based on seven categories:

  1. Coverage and benefits
  2. Provider choice
  3. Information and communication
  4. Claims processing
  5. Statements
  6. Customer service
  7. Approval process
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