How Medicare Advantage Plans Can Increase Consumer Satisfaction

Medicare Advantage plans are more likely to achieve high satisfaction scores when they offer a consistent product message and brand experience and have control over the delivery of care, according to a J.D. Power study. Members frequently choose a plan they understand and find easy to work with. The study measures member satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans based on six factors in order of importance: coverage and benefits (26%); customer service (20%); provider choice (15%); cost (14%); information and communication (13%); and claims processing (13%).

Improving communications with enrollees is one of the greatest opportunities for health plans to improve member satisfaction. It’s the only factor in the study that has not seen a significant improvement in member satisfaction. Valerie Monet, director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power, said that many plans have multiple product design features and come with technical manuals that are 20 pages or longer. Expecting members to be experts on these services and benefits is a losing battle for the plan and the member. Members expect their plan to provide guidance, ranging from assistance in selecting a doctor to helping them understand prescription costs.

Forty-eight percent of members agree strongly that their health plan is a trusted partner in their health and wellness, which increases satisfaction by 166 points. Satisfaction is 136 points higher among the 89% of members who completely understand how to find a doctor under the plan. Satisfaction is 110 points higher among the 88% of members who say their doctor spends the right amount of time with them.

Members expect immediate attention or advice when they call their health plan provider. Forty-one percent of those who called their plan had to give the same information more than once to get their issue resolved. Only 35% of members said that customer service provided all of the information they needed on the costs of prescription medications. Ninety-one percent of customers who are delighted with their Medicare Advantage plan (satisfaction scores of 901 or higher), say they will definitely renew their policy, and 89% will definitely recommend their plan to family and friends. Loyalty drops to 71% and advocacy to 66% among members who are pleased with their plan (scores of 751-900). Plans garnered the following member-satisfaction scores:

  • Kaiser Permanente 851
  • Highmark 791
  • Humana 782
  • UnitedHealthcare 775
  • Cigna 774
  • Aetna 773
  • Anthem 765
  • Health Net 756
  • WellCare 742

In 2016, members reported an average increase of $117 in annual premiums to $1,497. They also have more out-of-pocket expenses. On average, member deductibles are $1,705 in 2016, a $310 jump from 2015. Satisfaction is 136 points higher when members completely understand their out-of-pocket costs. Monet said that members are more satisfied and see the value of their plan when they have a better understanding of how much they are paying and what the costs cover.” For more information visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/us-medicare-advantage-study.

NAFA Defends Fixed Annuities

A recent report by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass.) ignores the benefits of fixed annuities and their growing popularity among consumers, according to a statement by the National Fixed Annuity Assn. (NAFA). NAFA says that Warren’s report contains misstatements and unsupported conclusions about fixed annuities and annuity sales professionals that might create unnecessary worry and confusion for consumers.

Chip Anderson, NAFA’s executive director said, “With only 22% of American workers very confident that they’ll have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement, there is a clear need for trusted insurance advisors and products that can generate guaranteed lifetime income. A fixed annuity is the only product that allows people to accumulate retirement savings, protect those savings from market losses, and guarantee income that lasts a lifetime. Fixed annuities offer excellent consumer value and are the only financial product available that provides guaranteed income for life with no downside risk to the client’s principal. They are supported by rigorous and comprehensive regulations that protect consumers and which have resulted in extremely high owner satisfaction rates.”

According to research compiled by NAFA, 99.99991% of annuity customers are satisfied with their purchase. Fixed annuity sales for 2014 totaled approximately $90 billion.

Fixed annuities are insurance products that offer guaranteed interest and the potential for additional interest, declared by the insurance company or determined by the calculation of positive gains in a market index. They guarantee protection of principal and have no market risk because the owners of fixed annuities do not participate in the underlying markets upon which the annuity interest performance is based. These benefits have led to record-high sales in recent years, as a growing number of Americans look for ways to supplement their income to meet a variety of retirement needs.

Senator Warren released the findings from an investigation into how perks and kickbacks create conflicts of interest in the annuities industry. Thirteen of the fifteen companies investigated admitted to offering kickbacks directly to agents or indirectly through third party gift payments, or both. Two of the fifteen leading annuities providers refuse to provide non-cash direct or indirect kickbacks, suggesting it is straightforward, though uncommon, to build a successful advising business without offering such inducements.

“Companies shouldn’t be allowed to offer expensive vacations, prizes, and other kickbacks to agents in exchange for selling costly, second-rate investment products to unsuspecting customers. This investigation highlights the need for a strong conflict of interest rule to protect the savings of families trying to save for retirement and to ensure a level playing field for companies and advisers who want to do right by their clients,” Senator Warren said. The following “key findings” of the report do not address her statement that fixed annuities are “second-rate investment products:”

  • The vast majority of companies investigated admitted to providing rewards and inducements, such as expensive vacations and other prizes, to annuity agents in exchange for sales.
  • Annuity companies also create conflicts of interest and evade some existing restrictions by offering perks and inducements to annuity sales agents through third party marketing organizations.
  • Current disclosure rules are inadequate to ensure that customers are informed about the incentives agents receive for selling them specific financial products.
  • Existing rules and regulations to deter conflicts of interest are completely inadequate.

“Because of loopholes in the law, it is perfectly legal for some advisers to steer customers into complex financial products that will earn the highest rewards, perks, and prizes for the advisers even if they are bad options for their customers.  Research suggests that this loophole costs Americans an estimated $17 billion every year. In order to protect consumers from these types of abuses, the Department of Labor has proposed a draft rule to put an end to these conflicts of interest by closing these loopholes,” she said.

United Gets High Ratings for Dental Plan

UnitedHealthcare ranks highest in customer satisfaction with dental plan insurers for a second consecutive year. The plan performed particularly well in the coverage, cost, and communications factors, according to the J.D. Power 2015 Dental Plan Satisfaction Report. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

Across all dental plan carriers, 42% of members have not gotten any information about their plan from their insurer. Satisfaction among these members is 662, compared to 758 among those who did get some type of information from their carriers. Among dental plan members who rate their experience 10 (outstanding), 87% say they definitely will choose their carrier in the future, compared to the report average of 43%. Among dental plan members who rate their experience outstanding, the average number of positive recommendations is four, compared to 1.6 for the report average.

The following are dental plan rankings:

  • UnitedHealthcare Dental 754
  • DentaQuest 736
  • HumanaDental 727
  • United Concordia Dental 720
  • Aetna Dental 714
  • MetLife Dental 709
  • Guardian Access Dental/Premier Access 706
  • myCigna Dental 701

Member Satisfaction Significantly Increases as Health Plans Take Customer-Centric Approach

Following a year filled with negative news coverage about health insurance, a bumpy start to the launch of the Affordable Care Act, and an atmosphere of fear, member satisfaction with health plans has increased significantly as plan administrators take a customer-centric approach, helping to build member trust and loyalty, according to a J.D. Power study.

Member satisfaction averages 679, which is a 10-point improvement from 2014. The increase in satisfaction is driven by improved performance across all factors, most notably in information and communication (+17 points), which is primarily a result of carrier’s efforts to refine messaging, adjust message frequency, and upgrade their websites. Satisfaction in the customer service factor has increased by 11 points, driven partially by matching communication methods to member preferences, such as mobile and text. Cost satisfaction increases by 13 points. Fewer members report a premium increase. They have also seen a decline in out-of-pocket expenses.

Rick Johnson, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power, said “Health plans have come a long way since last year as the focus has shifted toward better serving member needs and building trust. However, there is still a lot of work to do. Health plans need to take a more customer-centric approach and keep their members engaged through regular communications about programs and services available through their plan. When members perceive their plan as a trusted health partner, there is a positive impact on loyalty and advocacy.”

Satisfaction is significantly higher among the 19% of members who strongly agree their health plan is a trusted partner in managing their health. Among members who say they strongly agree that their health plan is a trusted partner, satisfaction increases by 201 points.

Within information and communication, satisfaction ratings have improved from 2014 in the factor’s four attributes: ease of understanding your plan’s benefits and services, frequency of communications, usefulness of information, and variety of communications.

Similarly, satisfaction ratings have also improved related to premiums, deductibles, co-pays for prescription medication, and co-pays for doctor visits.

Member satisfaction is 108 points higher among members who have contacted their plan via mobile app at least once in the past 12 months than among those who haven’t. While members under 40 years old contact their plan via text and mobile app at a significantly higher rate than older members, the telephone is still the most frequently used contact method across all age cohorts.

Satisfaction is highest among health plan members in the California, Northwest Illinois–Indiana, Michigan, and Mountain regions.

Survey highlights importance of benefits education

A Harris poll of 1,621 working adults found that 28% rate their benefits education as fair or poor, and only 30% of that group gave high marks to their workplace generally. The findings indicate the importance of the connections among benefits satisfaction, benefits education and workplace satisfaction, according to experts. Seventy-nine percent of respondents who had reviewed their benefits in the past year and rated their education as very good or excellent also rated their employer as very good or excellent. National Underwriter Life & Health (7/22)

Professional Support Boosts Satisfaction of 401(k) Plans

401(k)supportSixty-one percent of plan sponsors who work with a financial professional are very satisfied with their 401(k) plan compared to only 40% of sponsors who don’t use a financial professional, according to a survey by Guardian. Ninety percent of plan sponsors consider their 401(k) to be successful when it helps them recruit and retain good employees, helps them offer competitive benefits, and helps them secure an adequate retirement income for their employees. About 90% of employers say that their 401(k) is successful in making retirement savings easier, providing planning tools, encouraging systematic savings, and helping employees fund a secure retirement.

Forty-six percent of small businesses surveyed did not offer a retirement plan, with many citing the potential expense as a deterrent. However, 58% said that they were interested in setting up a plan within the next three years. “This, coupled with the fact that nearly 30% of business owners did not know which type of plan was best suited for their company, illuminates the huge opportunities for financial professionals in the small-plan market,” said Douglas Dubitsky, vice president at Guardian Retirement Solutions.

While the majority of plan sponsors are satisfied with their retirement plans, underlying fees and expenses are major concerns. Additional concerns include the staff and executive time required to manage the plan along with the need to educate employees to manage their investments.
The study also reveals that small business owners are confused by their fiduciary roles and responsibilities with nearly one in five not satisfied with fiduciary support. Additionally, almost one-third of plan sponsors did not realize they were the plan fiduciary. Plan sponsors who work with financial professionals are more knowledgeable about plan requirements, including their fiduciary responsibilities. Those who work with financial professionals generally offer plans that are better designed and include more advanced features, such as an employer match, target date funds, and a managed account option. Small-plan sponsors are increasingly realizing the value of working with third-party support services and financial professionals for outsourced solutions that help save time and mitigate fiduciary risks. “This, and the fact that many non-sponsors are extremely confused by their options in the 401(k) market, reinforces what we have seen at Guardian for a long time — there are more and better opportunities for financial professionals in the small-plan retirement market than ever before,” he said. For more information, visit www.glic.com

Last Updated 09/12/2019

Arch Apple Financial Services | Individual & Family Health Plans, Affordable Care California, Group Medical Insurance, California Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace, Medicare Supplements, HMO & PPO Health Care Plans, Long Term Care & Disability Insurance, Life Insurance, Dental Insurance, Vision Insurance, Employee Benefits, Affordable Care Act Assistance, Health Benefits Exchange, Buy Health Insurance, Health Care Reform Plans, Insurance Agency, Westminster, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Irvine, Santa Ana, Tustin, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Long Beach, Orange, Tustin Foothills, Seal Beach, Anaheim, Newport Beach, Yorba Linda, Placentia, Brea, La Habra, Orange County CA

12312 Pentagon Street - Garden Grove, CA 92841-3327 - Tel: 714.638.0853 - 800.731.2590
Email:
Jay@ArchApple.com
Copyright @ 2015 - Website Design and Search Engine Optimization by Blitz Mogul