Americans haven’t been this fed up with health insurance companies in a decade, and their frustration likely won’t fade soon.
Consumer satisfaction with health insurance providers fell to the lowest level since 2005, largely due to the slow processing of claims and the rising costs of premiums, deductibles and copays, according to a new survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index that dates to 2001.
Americans are extremely cost sensitive, especially in the health sector, and take notice of how fast their costs go up, says ACSI managing director David VanAmburg.
Obamacare also plays an indirect role. Providers are unable to keep up with customer service as more people purchase insurance, he says. And many insurers haven’t beefed up their staffing to deal with the increase in demand. As insurers become responsible for more consumers, they may need to recalibrate, VanAmburg says.
Consumers are generally more pleased with smaller insurers that have fewer customers and can provide better customer service. People with individual policies also tend to be more satisfied with their health insurers than those with group policies, which are usually provided through their employers, the survey found.
“If you can shop for something that’ll meet your needs, rather than be pigeonholed into one plan, you’ll generally be happier,” VanAmburg says.
Consumer satisfaction with health insurance companies has been on a general decline since 2006, when consumers experienced only a small increase in prices and consistent quality of service.
VanAmburg doesn’t expect a turnaround any time soon, thanks to the mergers among the nation’s five largest health insurers. The newly merged companies must combine their customer databases, which likely will lead to short-term customer service problems like double-billing or lost claims.
“Ongoing consolidation among the big players is not likely to bode well for an industry that is already underwhelming its policyholders,” the survey concluded.