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J.D. Power unveils 2019 Medicare Advantage Study

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COSTA MESA, Calif. — With enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans nearly doubling over the past decade — now reaching roughly 20.4 million Americans — health plans have been able to maintain consistently high levels of overall customer satisfaction. According to the J.D. Power 2019 Medicare Advantage Study, released today, overall satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans has increased slightly this year.


“Approximately 10,000 people turn 65 every day in America and many are choosing Medicare Advantage plans helping private plan membership grow nearly 10% between 2018 and 2019,” said James Beem, managing director, global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power. “That’s 1.6 million beneficiaries being added to a relatively small number of health plans in a very short time frame. Even though health plans have been delivering a remarkably consistent customer experience, there is still room for improvement in the form of lowering costs for seniors, proactive communication around explanation of benefits and helping members coordinate health care.”

Following are some of the key findings of the 2019 study:

  • Satisfaction gap narrows between PPO and HMO Plans: While overall customer satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans is up 1 point (795 on a 1,000-point scale) from 2018, the gap in overall satisfaction between HMOs and PPOs is narrowing. In 2019, the gap is 10 points (804 for HMOs vs. 794 for PPOs), whereas in 2017, the gap was 20 points (810 for HMOs vs. 790 for PPOs).
  • Member tenure has positive effect on satisfaction: Overall customer satisfaction is highest (822) among Medicare Advantage plan members who have been with the same plan between 9-11 years. However, 59% of plan members say they’ve been with their current provider for less than five years.
  • Cost is most frequent driver of switching: Among Medicare Advantage plan members who choose to switch plans, the most common reason is cost-related. However, those who switch plans for cost-related reasons alone have satisfaction scores that are considerably lower (777) than those who switch for cost- and non-cost-related reasons (808).
  • Information and communication offer opportunity for improvement: Aside from cost, the lowest-rated attributes in the study are consistently those related to information and communication. Fewer than 9% of Medicare Advantage plan members say they’ve experienced all three of the study’s key performance indicators related to effective communication.

Medicare Advantage Plan Customer Satisfaction Rankings

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan ranks highest in Medicare Advantage member satisfaction for a fifth consecutive year, with a score of 833. Kaiser outperforms all other plans across four of the six factors that comprise the overall satisfaction index. Highmark (818) ranks second and Humana (803) ranks third.

The study, now in its fifth year, measures member satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans—also called Medicare Part C or Part D—based on six factors (in order of importance): coverage and benefits (29%); provider choice (17%); cost (15%); customer service (15%); information and communication (12%); and billing and payment (12%).

The 2019 Medicare Advantage Study is based on the responses of 3,233 members of Medicare Advantage plans across the United States. It was fielded from January through March 2019.

For more information about the 2019 Medicare Advantage Study, visit https://www.jdpower.com/business/resource/us-medicare-advantage-study.


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