Consumers love their supermarkets, fast food shops, retailers, delivery services, and banks. These industries rank highest in the 2017 Temkin Experience Ratings, my go-to source for understanding consumer service Nirvana.

Health insurance companies and internet service providers (ISPs) are at the bottom of the Temkin Ratings, as shown in the first chart.

Note that health plans range from a score approaching 70 to under 50, illustrating the very wide range of consumer experience from okay-to-good, too very poor.

The top-ranked health plan was Kaiser Permanente, with a rating of 67%; Health Net was ranked the worst of the health plans considered, with a rating of 42% (very poor). While Kaiser-Permanente was the highest-ranked health plan, its rating of 67% is still lower than the worst supermarket or fast food chain studied.

If there’s any good news for health insurance companies in this seven-year longitudinal study, it’s that consumers’ experience with health plans gained 4 percentage points since 2012, when the average across all plans was 47%.

Temkin ratings are based on three components of customer experience:

  • Success – was the consumer able to accomplish what she/he wanted to do?
  • Effort – how easy was it to interact with the company?
  • Emotion – how did she/he feel about the interactions?

Among all of the industries, health plans fell to the bottom of the effort component, Temkin found. Three organizations earned a “very poor” rating for effort, and they were all health plans: Health Net, Medicaid, and Blue Shield of California. The red box is the industry average for the segment: note that health plans’ average falls into the blue “poor” performing segment.

For context, Temkin rating the following health plans: Aetna, Anthem, BCBS of Florida, BCBS of Michigan, BCBS plan not listed/named, Blue Shield of California, CIGNA, Health Net, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, Medicaid, Medicare, TriCare, and United Healthcare.

The second table details the top and bottom organizations. The top performing companies for customer experience are dominated by supermarkets, fast food, and retail, with one bank (Regions) in the left column.

The bottom performers, listed in the right column, are represented by health plans, ISPs, and travel companies. Among the bottom 50 are 11 of the 14 studied health insurance companies.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Health plans are no longer third-party payer relationships for health consumers, who are increasingly responsible for first-dollar payment into high-deductible health plans and monthly premiums. Thus, customer service must be on-par with other consumer experiences – especially, like retail.

A useful mantra for health plans, as well as health care providers and suppliers (pharma, medical device), is that value is in the eye of the beholder in the growing value-based health care environment. An excellent explanation of this can be found in a 2015 JAMA article titled, “Value-based payments require valuing what matters to patients,” linked here.