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Survey: Kaiser tops in customer satisfaction for health insurance

March 11, 2013|By Chad Terhune
  • Kaiser Permanente employees tend to a hospital patient in Los Angeles. The nonprofit company ranked highest in customer satisfaction among California policyholders, a survey shows.
Kaiser Permanente employees tend to a hospital patient in Los Angeles.… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

For the sixth consecutive year, Kaiser Permanente ranked highest in customer satisfaction for health insurance among California policyholders, according to ratings firm J.D. Power and Associates.

Anthem Blue Cross, the state's largest for-profit health insurer, and Woodland Hills insurer Health Net Inc. scored the lowest on customer satisfaction among seven California health plans.

Kaiser, the nation's largest nonprofit health plan and hospital system, also led the way in customer satisfaction in Colorado, the Mid-Atlantic states and the South Atlantic area.

In its annual survey, J.D. Power surveyed more than 33,000 customers of 136 commercial health plans in December and January in 17 regions across the country. The firm asked about coverage and benefits, provider choice, customer service, claims processing and other matters.

Nationally, the average satisfaction score was 701 out of 1,000 possible points.

The average score in California was 706, down one point from a year ago. Kaiser scored 760 among its Golden State customers, followed by Blue Shield of California (708), UnitedHealthcare (703), Cigna (700), Aetna (690), Anthem Blue Cross (677) and Health Net (661).

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Oakland-based Kaiser is the state's largest health plan and it had a 40% share of California's $59-billion health insurance market in 2011, according to Citigroup data. Anthem Blue Cross, a unit of industry giant WellPoint Inc., was second with a 23% share of the employer and individual insurance market.

The J.D. Power survey found considerable interest among consumers nationwide in new state-run insurance exchanges slated to open in October. Among people who purchase their own policies, 73% said they were likely to use an exchange to shop for coverage next year under the federal healthcare law.

Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, is planning to negotiate with health insurers for the best rates and it has already set standardized benefits to help consumers compare plans. Families earning up to about $93,000 annually will qualify for federal premium subsidies through the exchange.

"Income-eligible members with high out-of-pocket costs and less tenure with a health plan are most likely to try exchanges," said Rick Millard, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power.

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