NASHVILLE, TN: Cigna was rated the most trustworthy healthcare plan among hospital and health system executives, according to a ReviveHealth survey.
For the 8th annual ReviveHealth Payor Trust Index, the firm added three questions designed to measure the trust factor of 203 hospital and health system executives who have the job of negotiating or approving managed care contracts with the nation’s largest commercial health insurance companies.
The individual trust measures that the healthcare companies were graded on include accuracy, honesty in representing themselves and their intentions, their effort to honor commitments, and how well they balance their interests with the hospitals.
Cigna notched a composite trust index score of 63.1 out of 100, while UnitedHealthcare earned the lowest score of 40.7, according to the survey.
Brandon Edwards, founder and CEO of ReviveHealth, said he thought the scores would be low, but they "turned out to be worse" than he expected.
"I would argue you need better trust in this industry," he said. "You can’t tolerate problems like this."
Relationships between executives at health systems and those at insurance companies are fractured, according to the survey.
Of the survey respondents, 95% reported having a contract with UnitedHealthcare, while 92% did with Aetna, and 91% with Cigna. When it came to trust, 66% percent of respondents said they thought Blue Cross and Blue Shield was the most trusted plan by consumers, while 47% said United was the least trusted.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield received 37% of the vote in best overall dealings with hospitals, and 42% of respondents ranked United the worst in the same category.
The survey also revealed that nearly one-third of respondents considered United the worst at paying promptly, while 10% considered it the best.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans were rated the most trustworthy among insurers or consumers, with 66% of hospital respondents’ votes. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield brand came in second in the overall trust index behind Cigna.
UnitedHealthcare said in an emailed statement that ReviveHealth’s "very selective, non-scientific, web-based survey misrepresents the positive relationships that UnitedHealthcare has with most hospitals."
"Productive, collaborative relationships between hospitals and payors are important if we are going to make progress together to improve our nation’s health care system, and UnitedHealthcare has taken a number of steps to improve how it works with health care providers," the statement added.
UnitedHealthcare contracts with 6,000 hospitals and more than 800,000 physicians and care professionals across the country, according to the emailed statement.
Edwards said United has caused problems with hospitals in a number of ways, such as removing about "2,000 doctors from its network" in 2013.
Patients can end up being affected by a poor relationship between hospitals and payors, which in some cases can cause financial worry "at the worst possible time," added Edwards. Medical bills are reportedly the leading reason for filing bankruptcy.
The survey, conducted January 21-March 5 in partnership with Catalyst Healthcare Research, targeted hospital leaders who negotiate and/or approve managed care contracts with national health insurance companies.