"Income-eligible members with high out-of-pocket costs and less tenure with a health plan are most likely to try exchanges," said Millard. "The exchange also appeals to those working at small companies who want to take more direct control over their healthcare expenses."Satisfaction is highest among health plan members in the Michigan, Texas and East South Central regions, and is lowest among those in the Mountain and Colorado regions. Health plans ranking highest in their respective regions (in alphabetical order) are Anthem Health Plans of New Hampshire; AvMed Health Plans; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas; Geisinger Health Plan; Health Alliance Plan (HAP) of Michigan; HealthPartners; Independent Health Association; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (which ranks highest in the California, Colorado, South-Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic regions); PacificSource Health Plans; SelectHealth; and UnitedHealthcare. J.D. Power offers the following tips to health plan members and consumers who are shopping for health insurance coverage:
- When shopping for a health insurance plan, consider the cost-to-benefit ratio. Generally speaking, the higher the cost, the higher the number of plan features and healthcare provider flexibility. Conversely, while lower-cost plans may provide lower premiums, they may also provide fewer choices of plan features or healthcare providers.
- If you purchase coverage on your own, research state-sponsored health insurance exchanges to learn how they work, and particularly how your state's exchange will be offered. Beginning later this year, you may qualify for state exchanges if your income is within a certain range or if you work for a small company, which may mean the possibility of more choices of coverage at a lower cost.
- While some states are implementing exchange ratings programs based on health plan quality (e.g., did the doctor order the right tests), be sure to review J.D. Power and Associates health plan rankings, which are based on member satisfaction, to see how your plan compares in the rankings.
- Understand your coverage. Health insurance plans are sometimes difficult to understand, with complex rules for deductibles, co-payments and other expenses. If you don't have a clear understanding of the coverage and you have a choice of plans, opt for the simpler approach. For example, you may be more satisfied with fewer choices of healthcare providers in order to have coverage with less complicated costs.