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Health Care Costs and Financing

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Individuals are unlikely to recommend an insurance plan if they do not like the provider choices or preventive services covered

Health plan managers can look at enrollees' satisfaction with their choice of providers and preventive services coverage if they want to gauge enrollee satisfaction with the plan, according to a study supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS10771 and HS10856). To explore the characteristics of individuals who are dissatisfied with their health plans, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and Brigham and Women's Hospital analyzed data from the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and the March 2003 MEPS dataset addressing plan satisfaction. This nationally representative survey includes data on health status, use and cost of medical care services, and health insurance among the U.S. noninstitutionalized population.

The researchers controlled for personal characteristics to determine the association between plan or provider attributes and unwillingness to recommend a plan (used as the measure of plan dissatisfaction). The largest predictors of unwillingness to recommend a health plan to others were dissatisfaction with choice of providers and coverage for preventive services. The probability of being unwilling to recommend a health plan was 38 percent for individuals dissatisfied with the choice of providers and 34 percent for those dissatisfied with coverage for preventive services.

In contrast, provider and personal characteristics were not significant predictors of satisfaction. Although provider attributes did not predict plan dissatisfaction overall, these attributes did predict plan dissatisfaction for HMO and multiple plan members.

See "Willingness to recommend a health plan: Who is dissatisfied and what don't they like?" by Julie A. Sakowski, Ph.D., Kathryn A. Phillips, Ph.D., Su-Ying Liang, Ph.D., and Jennifer S. Haas, M.D., M.S.P.H., in the June 2004 American Journal of Managed Care 10(6), pp. 393-400.

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