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Health insurance satisfaction declines: Survey

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People in group health plans are more dissatisfied with their employer-provided health coverage than consumers in general, and customer satisfaction with health insurance has reached its lowest level in a decade, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Health insurance now ranks the fifth-lowest of industries ranked in the study that began in 1994 as a joint effort of the University of Michigan and American Society for Quality. Only fixed-line telephone service, the U.S. Postal Service, subscription television services and Internet service providers rank lower, according to the survey released Monday.

High premiums, deductibles and copayments as well as slow processing are some reasons customer satisfaction has declined to a score of 69 for health insurance customers overall and 68 for those with group health coverage. Both groups' opinions do improve, however, if they have more than one type of coverage from which to choose, according to the study.

“The health insurance industry is in the midst of merger mania among large insurers that could tighten the field if the federal government grants approval: Humana-Aetna and Anthem-Cigna. Ongoing consolidation among the big players is not likely to bode well for an industry that is already underwhelming its policyholders, as characterized by low and declining customer satisfaction.”

Health insurers' best performance was in access to primary care, access to specialty care doctors and hospitals, and website capabilities, according to the annual survey of about 70,000 customers.