CONSUMER SATISFACTION: Survey Shows Slight Decline
The number of "highly satisfied" HMO members dropped 3% last year from 1996 to rest at 57%, according to the annual Commercial Health Plan Members Survey released today by CareData Reports Inc. Researchers attribute the drop to lower satisfaction with pharmacy benefits and customer service. Reduced satisfaction of getting questions answered and problems solved lowered the satisfaction with customer service four percentage points to 58%. Pharmacy benefits, traditionally a strong source of customer satisfaction, tumbled seven percentage points to 69% (release, 8/25). The Hartford Courant reports that the findings hold important implications for HMOs, since employers rely on CareData's reports when choosing health plans (Levick, 8/26). CareData President Dr. Tom Cooperman noted that plan administrators facing cost pressures often target pharmaceuticals to achieve "short-term savings," but tighter prescription rules are no panacea. Cooperman cautioned that this strategy often backfires by generating increased costs later.
Just The Facts
- For PCPs, specialists, and hospitals, the percentages of "highly satisfied" members remained steady at 66%, 67%, and 74% respectively.
- Most members rated treatment for pregnancy/delivery, cancer and glaucoma as excellent, but fewer than 40% rated care as excellent for depression, quitting smoking, migraine, sleep problems, arthritis, and weight loss.
- Survey respondents found that preventive care was most often encouraged for Pap smears, mammograms and childhood vaccines, but was least often encouraged for glaucoma testing, flu vaccines, counseling on nutrition, skin protection and bone density testing.
Survey Design And Availability
CareData surveyed 50,000 health plan members asking 138 questions to assess perceived adequacy of care for 25 medical conditions including allergy, hypertension, osteoporosis and elevated cholesterol; sixteen types of preventive care and screening; satisfaction with pharmacy benefits; and reasons for joining as well as leaving plans. The survey evaluated member satisfaction with 145 managed care health plans in 27 major managed care markets. More information is available at CareData's website, www.caredata.com (release, 8/25).
The Courant reports that M.D. Health Plan was the highest rated in Connecticut, according to the CareData survey (8/27). A Tufts Health Plan news release celebrates its ranking as the best HMO in the Boston area. Nancy Leaming, Tufts Health Plan president, said, "The true measure of the success of a health plan is how the members feel. This independent survey illustrates that the attention our providers and employees pay to quality and service is being felt by our members" (release, 8/25). For the fifth consecutive year, Oxford Health Plans' New York point-of-service plan ranked number one, outranking leading competitors Aetna U.S. Healthcare, United HealthCare, and Vytra (Oxford release, 8/27).