Retain group business by improving employer satisfaction

July 15, 2013

Plans risk losing group contracts with alternative healthcare purchasing choices becoming available.

Plans that focus on improving satisfaction are more likely to retain employer-sponsored group contracts, according to the J.D. Power 2013 Employer Health Plan Study. With alternative healthcare purchasing choices becoming available to employers-public and private exchanges, and even cutting coverage altogether-plans risk losing group business.

The study measures six key factors that influence employer satisfiction: employee plan service experience, account servicing, program offerings, benefit design, problem resolution and cost. Plans are also ranked in fully-insured and self-funded employer segments.

Based on a 1,000-point scale, satisfaction averages 709 among fully-insured employers and 696 among self-funded employers. For employers intending to discontinue coverage in five years, satisfaction across all factors is at least 76 points lower than employers intending to continue offering coverage.

Among fully-insured employers, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) ranks highest with a score of 741, while Cigna ranks highest among self-funded employers with a score of 707. The study shows that both plans perform well in benefits design, problem resolution and account servicing.

Employer satisfaction with program offerings, such as preventive health programs, disease management or wellness initiatives, is a key area of differentiation in both fully-insured and self-funded segments between employers that intend to continue offering coverage in the future and those that intend to discontinue coverage.

“One way that health plans may improve employer satisfaction is by demonstrating they are making an impact on the health behavior of employees,” said Richard Millard, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power, in a statement. “How well health plans are able to do this may make a difference in determining whether an employer chooses to continue offering coverage or not.”

Cost also drives satisfaction. Among employers intending to sponsor coverage in the future, cost satisfaction is 106 points higher than among those intending to discontinue coverage (696 vs. 590, respectively). Also, cost satisfaction is improving as more consumer driven high-deductible plans are offered to employees, which 82% of employers indicate are controlling costs.

According to the study, nearly one-fifth (15%) of employers “definitely will not” or “probably will not” continue sponsoring coverage in five years. The study is based on responses from 5,857 employers.