ACSI survey on health plan satisfaction 2014The corporate reputation, brand equity, of the health insurance continues to be low relative to other financial service industry benchmarks, found in the ACSI Finance and Insurance Report 2014. Customer satisfaction with health insurance companies fell between 2013 and 2014, especially attributed to higher costs hitting consumers in group (employer-based) policies.

The 2014 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is informed by interviews with 6,819 consumers interviewed via phone and email between July and September 2014. Customers of financial services companies (banks, credit unions, health insurance, life insurance, property & casualty, and internet brokerages) were asked to provide their opinions about named-firms to rank customer satisfaction based on both complaints and customer loyalty.

“There is no area where health insurance companies offer an outstanding experience,” ACSI asserts in the report. The first chart illustrates that for every customer experience benchmark measured, health plans have fallen in consumers’ eyes, including the most important line items in their eyes:

  • Plans providing access to primary care doctors, dropping from 82% of customers having a positive experience to 79%
  • Plans enabling access to specialty care, falling from 81% positive to 77% feeling positive
  • Ease of submitting a claim, declining from 79% to 75%, and
  • Coverage of standard medical services like office visits, tests and procedures, dropping from 78% to 74%.

Call center operations are the worst-performing benchmark in customer experience, closely followed in poor performance by prescription drug coverage. The only indicator staying flat in the past year was the range of plans available to choose from, remaining at 71% of consumers having a positive experience.

ACSI survey on health plan satisfaction 2014Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Health insurance in America has entered the realm of retail. Health plans should take customer experience seriously. The call center is the face of the health plan, and ACSI finds dismal performance for that aspect of the retail experience.

If you look at the second chart, you find that health insurance ranks far at the bottom with airlines, subscription TV services, and internet service providers. On the other hand, in health care, retail health and personal care stores, ambulatory care, and hospitals rank higher in consumer satisfaction. It behooves health plans, who play the treasury function in U.S. health care, to listen to the voice of the customer — and ultimately, that is the consumer-member of the health plan, who as she continues to pay an increasing share of health care costs out of her own pocketbook, will respond to retail health players who put her at the center of the health care ecosystem.