UMass Medical School survey of Vermont Health Connect finds varied customer satisfaction

September 17, 2015

A survey conducted by UMass Medical School finds customer satisfaction with the Vermont Health Connect insurance exchange varies from satisfaction with navigators to disappointment over out-of-pocket costs, according to stories by Vermont Public Radio and VTDigger.org.

The survey collected responses from 2,569 people who had bought or tried to buy insurance on Vermont Health Connect. Those responding to the survey were asked to rate the insurance exchange on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the top score. The average score was 5, with 33 percent giving the program an overall rating of 8 or higher and 17 percent rating it 2 or lower.

The Center for Health Policy and Research at Commonwealth Medicine conducted the survey. The leads were Michael Chin, MD, assistant professor of UMass Medical School’s Family Medicine and Community Health and a health policy associate; and Bittie BehlChadha, PhD, director of the Office of Survey Research.

Medicaid members and individuals buying private plans from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Care are included in the 200,000 Vermont residents served by Vermont Health Connect.

The primary complaints cited in the survey were:

  • Problems in obtaining or renewing insurance.
  • Billing issues and delays in processing applications and renewals, and making changes to existing policies.

But the survey also found that newer customers had higher satisfaction with the insurance exhange, according to the Sept. 17 VTDigger.org story. Of customers newly enrolled in commercial health plans offeried by the exchange, 28 percent gave their experience a high rating. 

Vermont officials said they are not familiar with any published surveys of other state-based insurance marketplaces, and there are “no real good public benchmarks” to compare Vermont’s survey results to, Dr. Chin said in the Sept. 17 Vermont Public Radio article.

Steven Costantino, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, told Vermont Public Radio the survey will help the state improve the average customer satisfaction rating of 5.

“So it’s a really good management tool to make sure the customer service experience of the exchange … is really meeting the needs of Vermonters,” Costantino told Vermont Public Radio.