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As it Turns out, Trust Really Does Matter

For the past decade we’ve measured trust between health systems and health plans – and while there has been minor improvement year over year, the overall rating of trust in health plans continue to be at a level that could keep a seventh grader in middle school indefinitely (See Payor Trust Index 2016). During that time, we’ve always predicted these poor grades would eventually affect financial performance and enterprise value – well, it seems that time has finally come. But don’t take our word for it – read what the Department of Justice said in its lawsuit filed on July 21 to stop Anthem’s bid to acquire Cigna (Health Plan Week, Aug. 15 2016, Vol. 26, No. 29.).

In those court documents, the government said a main reason it wants to thwart the deal is, “That Anthem is not considered to be innovative in the marketplace, and Cigna is.” In this case, innovation pertains to perceptions in key areas like value-based payment models, care management, and consumer wellbeing. It went on to say, “Anthem has earned a reputation in many markets for having poor customer service, being slow to innovate, and being difficult to work with for doctors and hospitals.” It makes sense that these are the very people who have rated their trust in health plans – and their working relationships with those same plans – so poorly.

Perhaps more telling, the president of Anthem’s Indiana business all but admitted these long-standing deficiencies when responding, “There are some customers … some prospects … who loathe us.” For the record, loathe means “to feel disgust or intense aversion for; abhor.” 

Conversely, the DOJ in those same documents wrote, “Cigna offers sophisticated wellness programs that improve the health of its members, provides highly regarded customer service, and works closely with doctors and hospitals to improve the quality and lower the cost of care.” These sentiments would support Cigna’s top trust ranking once again – according to the 2016 Payor Trust Index – albeit Cigna finished in a virtual tie with Aetna. And industry veteran and CEO of Consumerdriven LLC, gently piled on when he told Health Plan Week, “Cigna is the only insurance company I know of that calls consumers customers. That focus has enabled them to try innovative solutions and take steps to build trust and awareness.” That’s not quite fair, since Cigna is definitely focusing on consumers and using consumer-centric language, but clearly Anthem is feeling the effects of its decision to deal with hospitals and physicians the way it does.

So, trust does matter. It matters to the DOJ. It’s always mattered to providers and physicians, and consumers. And now it matters to Anthem too.

The results of our 10th Annual ReviveHealth Trust Index™ are in, and the results are significant. Join our CEO, Brandon Edwards, and Catalyst Health CEO, Dan Prince, as they deconstruct the results and offer five strategies on how payors and providers can close the Trust Gap and mutually succeed in the new environment. Register here.

September 21, 2016
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