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Consumers are happy with Medicare and Medicaid but wary of Amazon, CVS and Walmart as health insurers

New research also reveals that customers want less expensive care, ways to understand benefits and incentives for healthy behaviors.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Heading into America's Health Insurance Plans annual conference this week, HealthEdge has released the results of a survey showing that while millennials expect a different experience than baby boomers, across all demographics consumers have relatively high satisfaction with their insurers.

Insurers earned an average rating of four out of five stars by the 2,513 survey respondents, according to the report by HealthEdge in partnership with San Francisco-based market research firm Survata.

Respondents participating in Medicare or Medicaid plans, as well as those in the 73-plus age group, consistently rated their health plan satisfaction higher than all other ages and insurance types. 

What's more, respondents overwhelmingly hold more trust in the current insurance model, by 69 percent, over potential new partnerships through proposed mega-mergers among retailers such as Amazon, CVS or Walmart (12 percent).

When asked which factor they believe is most responsible for the high cost of healthcare, 36 percent of respondents blame pharmaceutical companies, but health insurers come in a close second at 31 percent. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities rate third at 19 percent.

While consumers are generally satisfied with their insurers, as well as the current industry model, the survey population reported that they desire a number of key services from health plans that would further increase member satisfaction. 

More than 40 percent of respondents, in fact, said that the tools and information to better understand benefits, more incentives for healthy behaviors and help in finding less costly care were the top three services that would improve their satisfaction. 

Of the 664 millennials who responded, 45 percent desire incentives for healthy behaviors. Additionally, they rank their health plans very low in the ability to communicate via social media and mobile apps, indicating that they would like more options through those channels. 

Twenty-eight percent of the 419 respondents in the 73-plus age group, meanwhile, report that the most important service missing from their health plan is tools or information to help them find less costly care.

For insurers, this presents an opportunity to help members of all ages not only navigate their benefits, but effectively manage the associated costs, HealthEdge said. There are many choices for Medicare plans, so member satisfaction and loyalty is a critical factor. 

Overall, the results mean that consumers want access to less expensive care options, want to understand their benefits to use them in the best way possible and want incentives for healthy behaviors, all factors contributing to lower healthcare costs, HealthEdge said. 

Survey findings were based on interviews with primary health insurance subscribers between May 3-15, 2018.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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