Hospitals rate their trust in insurers

Cigna, BCBS are most trusted by hospital executives

Hospital executives like working with independent BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) health plans more than any other insurance company, according to a new survey of hospital executives.

For its eighth annual National Payer Survey, ReviveHealth—a strategic communications company that works with hospitals—surveyed 203 CEOs, CFOs, and payer relations executives at hospitals and health systems from Jan. 21 to March 5. The survey included general questions about payer relations and specific questions about major U.S. insurance companies.

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Overall, the survey found that BlueCross BlueShield was most often considered the best insurance company to work with: Thirty-seven percent of respondents said it was the best insurer to work with, while just 11% considered it the worst.

Meanwhile, United Healthcare was widely considered the worst insurance company to work with: Forty-two percent said it was the worst insurer to work with, while just 6% said it was the best.

Who do hospitals trust?

In addition, this year's survey added three questions designed to measure hospitals' trust of such companies. ReviveHealth used the questions to establish a Trust Index on 1-100 scale for each of the insurance companies:

  • 63.1% for Cigna;
  • 58.9% for BCBS;
  • 58.1% for Coventry;
  • 56.5% for Aetna;
  • 50.7% for WellPoint/Anthem;
  • 50.1% for Humana;
  • 47.3% for BlueCard; and
  • 40.7% for United Healthcare.

Overall, the survey found that "the level of trust that hospital executives have in health insurance companies they regularly deal with is abominably low."

"I was surprised that the numbers were as bleak as they were" on questions relating to trust, ReviveHealth CEO Brandon Edwards said in a statement. He added "It's very hard to lawyer your way around that, or to contract your way around that."

Click here to see last year's results.

The survey also asked hospitals and executives to rate the insurers by their specific strengths and weaknesses and found BCBS rated best for honesty and candor, timeliness and responsiveness, processing and paying claims, fewest claim denials, lowest physician payment rates, willingness to partner with hospitals on new initiatives and easiest to deal with. For reimbursement rates for inpatient and outpatient care, Aetna ranked best.

According to the survey, BlueCard ranked worst in all categories, although just 2% of survey respondents deemed it to the worst insurer overall at dealing with hospitals (Cheney, HealthLeaders Media, 5/9; Robertson, "Nashville Biz Blog," Nashville Business Journal, 5/9; ReviveHealth survey, 5/1).

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