An Unhealthy Relationship

"The Walker Loyalty Report for Health Insurance," released today by Walker Information, reveals several ailing areas in the relationship between health insurance carriers and their consumers. According to the report, which discusses the results of a survey of more than 2,000 customers about their current health insurance carriers, these health insurance carriers are lagging in customer service and support. Although 70 percent of respondents said they are satisfied with their carriers, only 30 percent of that group consider themselves loyal enough to want to continue the relationship. Two out of three surveyed said they would consider other health insurance offers. Only half the participants would recommend their current health insurance carriers to others. Health insurers received middling marks in a variety of areas regarding the customers' relationship with the carrier. Fifty-one percent of respondents find their health insurance company easy to do business with, but only 42 percent believes providers care about customers. And although 54 percent believes their carrier has a good reputation, only 40 percent say their carriers offer a good value. Slightly more than half (54 percent) are positive about the overall quality of their carrier's products, and 63 percent responded positively about overall costs of products and services. Loyalty seems to come with age. Customers over the age of 54 are more positive about their providers than those in younger age brackets. Customer service and support is also an issue, the report findings show. One out of two customers gave high marks for customer service and support; more than half of those surveyed found it easy to use their benefits. Fifty-six percent says they were concerned about the quality of information provided to help them understand their coverage and benefits. The study also uncovered some interesting findings about the carriers themselves. Fifty-four percent says their carrier is financially sound; 45 percent thinks their provider is an industry leader; just 40 percent believes the carrier is highly ethical. Jeff Marr, group vice president at Walker Information, says that customer loyalty will become increasingly more important. Currently, most customers are locked into healthcare, but as the choices grow and there are more options loyalty will be critical to success, according to Marr.
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