You may not be hearing it directly from your employees, but most are not happy with the customer service health plans provide. A new research report published by Temkin Group, a consulting firm, rates the customer experience of 206 large companies across 18 industries.

The research, which is based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers in January 2012, includes 13 health plans. Kaiser Permanente was the top-rated health plan, the only plan to receive an "okay" rating, but it only ranked 87th in the overall ratings. TriCare, Medicare, Aetna, United Healthcare, Humana, Empire BCBS, Blue Shield of CA and CIGNA all received "poor" ratings. Four plans received "very poor" ratings and are ranked in the bottom seven across all industries: Highmark BCBS, Health Net, Medicaid and Anthem BCBS.

Health plans represented the lowest-rated industry, and only one of three industries to receive an average rating of "poor." The industry, however, experienced a modest improvement between 2011 and 2012.

"It's troubling that only one health plan can even achieve an okay rating; the entire industry needs a customer experience wake-up call. While it's great to see some improvement, it's not enough," says Bruce Temkin, author of the report and managing partner of Temkin Group.

The ratings evaluated three dimensions of customer experience:

* Functional: Does the company meet consumers' needs?

* Accessible: How easy is it for consumers to do what they are trying to do?

* Emotional: How do consumers feel about their interactions with companies?

Kaiser Permanente and TriCare received the highest functional ratings, while Highmark BCBS and Health Net received the lowest.

Kaiser Permanente and Aetna received the highest accessible ratings, while Medicaid, Health Net and Highmark BCBS received the lowest.

TriCare and Kaiser Permanente received the highest emotional ratings, while Highmark BCBS and Health Net received the lowest.

Overall, Kaiser Permanente had a double-digit improvement in its score, while five other plans increased their score by five or more points: Anthem BCBS, Aetna, United Healthcare, CIGNA and Humana. TriCare was the only health plan to slip by five points or more between 2011 and 2012, but Medicaid and Medicare also declined.

And while TriCare didn't fare well in the customer experience ratings, it did much better in the 2011 Temkin trust ratings, which asked 6,000 U.S. consumers how much they trust different companies. On that list, TriCare ranked No. 4. Other health plans making the trustworthy list include: Kaiser Permanente (No. 52), Medicare (No. 62), Medicaid (No. 69), Aetna (No. 116), Humana (No. 123) and United Healthcare (No. 125).

 

Health plan results

Here are the rankings of the 13 health plans included in the 2012 customer experience survey conducted by Temkin:

Okay

* Kaiser Permanente

Poor

* TriCare

* Medicare

* Aetna

* United Healthcare

* Humana

* Empire (BCBS)

* Blue Shield of California

* CIGNA

Very poor

* Anthem (BCBS)

* Medicaid

* Health Net

* Highmark (BCBS)

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