- A majority of current commercial health insurance customers reported being pleased with their coverage and planning to renew it for 2021, though major health plans varied widely in consumer satisfaction, according to an Insure.com survey of current policyholders released Wednesday.
- Consumers ranked integrated system Kaiser Permanente the best health insurance for 2021. After Kaiser, the top five companies were Blue Shield of California, Humana, Florida Blue and UnitedHealthcare. Top-performing plans were set apart by competitive pricing and a focus on customer service, Insure.com found, though they distinguish themselves in different arenas.
- UnitedHealthcare, the largest commercial payer in the country, saw one of the biggest jumps in the ratings, having been ranked No. 13 in last year's survey. Of the 15 major U.S. insurers included in the survey, Centene was ranked last.
The health insurance industry has been slammed for years with low marks by consumers struggling to navigate the complex healthcare system. Payers struggle with consumer satisfaction and have worked in recent years to streamline their billings systems and patient portals to appeal to more beneficiaries, especially as consumerism continues to be more of a focus the industry.
And the coronavirus pandemic has likely exacerbated the situation, with almost half of members saying their health plan didn't show concern for their health during the first months of COVID-19, according to a May survey by J.D. Power.
Yet overall, consumers report general satisfaction with their plans, according to the insurance marketplace site's survey. Insure.com's survey ranks major insurers on customer service, cost, claims service, whether policyholders plan to renew, whether they would recommend the company to others and the usability of the plan's website or app. The consumer intelligence firm surveyed more than 2,200 beneficiaries nationwide in October for the results.
Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente snagged the top spot in the rankings, up from No. 4 in last year's survey. Being an integrated health system makes it easier for beneficiaries to find in-network providers, improving satisfaction scores, Insure.com found. Kaiser, which covers more than 12 million people with almost 40 hospitals and hundreds of medical offices, ranks especially ranks well with Generation X members, and tied with Humana for the top health plan among Baby Boomers, a population that utilizes a broad swath of healthcare services.
Blue Shield of California, No. 2 in the survey, received the best scores for claims processing, with consumers noting its billing process and payment options were especially helpful. That's significant progress from 2020, when it was ranked much lower at No. 11.
Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana, at No. 3., tied with its runner-up Florida Blue for billing process and payment options, and also scored well for affordable pricing and its many Medicare Advantage options offered in most states. Humana, which covers more than 20 million people, also saw gains, having finished fifth last year, and was ranked No. 1 overall in the South.
Despite its overall gains, UnitedHealthcare was the only payer in the top five where fewer than 75% of its beneficiaries wouldn't recommend it to others, with only 66% of consumers reporting they would — dead last on that metric, though still a majority.
That's compared to 87%, 83%, 83% and 77% for Kaiser, Blue Shield of California, BCBS of Florida and Humana, respectively.
However, UnitedHealthcare — which was was ranked the top insurer in the Midwest — scored very highly on how many consumers planned to renew their coverage, with 92%. UnitedHealthcare was only beaten by Blue Shield of California, with 93%, on that metric.
Florida Blue received first place for its website and app, a factor that likely contributed to it receiving the highest marks among tech-savvy millennials. The Blues payer ranked No. 1 in each category in that age group, suggesting the importance of payers maintaining a digital front door for their beneficiaries. A whopping 95% of millennials surveyed said they'd recommend Florida Blue, compared to 83% overall.
Of the 15 major U.S. insurers analyzed in the survey, Centene was ranked the lowest, with only 78% of customers saying they'd recommend the plans and 86% planning to renew. Cigna rang in at No. 7, CVS Health-owned Aetna at No. 10 and Anthem at No. 11.