Physicians and Insurers: Can They Get Along?

Carol Peckham


October 21, 2014

In This Article

Do Physicians Like Any of Their Insurers?

In the Medscape 2011 insurer ratings survey, physicians were simply asked which insurer they thought was the best. Blue Plans came in first (29% of respondents) and Aetna in second (10%). This year, however, physicians were asked to rank their insurers by performance, on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = very poor and 5 = very good). Although Blue Plans scored highest again this year, their average rating was only 3.3; and Aetna, again in second place, rated just 3.2, tied with Cigna. Six out of the 10 insurers listed were rated below average, with Oxford and HealthNet coming up shortest at 2.82. (Medicare and Medicaid were excluded from this question.)


Which Insurers Do You Consider the Best?

Given that Blue Plans are essentially regional, the percentages of physicians in this survey who ranked the Blue Plans above 4 varied widely by state. In California, for example, only 25% of physicians rated them this positively, compared with 67% in Illinois and 43% in Texas. By comparison, a more consistent percentage (about a third) of physicians in each of these states rated Aetna, a single corporation, over 4: 34% in California, 35% in Florida, 37% in Illinois, 36% in New York, 35% in Texas.

Regional players in general fared better than their large corporate peers when viewed by specialty. When asked to rate the top insurer, Harvard Pilgrim, the leading regional insurer in Massachusetts, achieved a 4 in critical care; in fact, regional plans (counting the individual Blue Plans) were in the top two of all specialties except plastic surgery.

Of interest, in 2014 the National Committee for Quality Assurance ranked 1400 insurance plans by consumer satisfaction, prevention, and treatment. Regional plans placed in the top 50 spots. Harvard Pilgrim plans came in second, third, and fourth. Individual plans from the big insurers Cigna and Aetna didn't appear until #51 (a Cigna plan) and #69 (an Aetna plan). Although Medical Mutual of Ohio was first for general surgeons, among consumers it was ranked #176.[3]


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