Since the survey divvies up the country into 17 regions, there are, essentially, 17 different top-ranked health plans. Millard says however, that there are broad conclusions to make. According to the study results, satisfaction is highest among health plan members in three regions: Texas, Michigan, and East South Central, which includes Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Conversely, health plan members are unhappiest in the Colorado and the Mountain regions, which include Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
Health plans are given a numerical score based on a 1,000 point scale. The 2013 study shows that overall member satisfaction averages 701 compared with 702 in 2012. The stability of the health plans' satisfaction score isn't necessarily a good thing, especially when compared to other business sectors.
"Satisfaction with commercial health insurance is among the lowest of any industry that we study at JD Power and has been for a while," says Millard. "But, it's not getting worse."
Millard says it's also clear from the study that the focus some health plans have put on improving its communication with members is paying off.
"In the area of online… Kaiser has a lot of applications. Another company that's done strongly in that area is Health Partners in the Twin Cities area," says Millard, who also points to Buffalo, NY-based Independent Health Association as an example of providing good customer service for its members in its high deductible plans.