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Independent Health honored for service

For the second straight year, Independent Health Association has been honored nationally for its customer service by marketing research and survey firm J.D. Power & Associates.

The Westlake Village, Calif.-based firm, best known for its customer satisfaction evaluations of cars, said it recognized the Williamsville-based health insurer "for providing its HMO members with an outstanding member experience" and "high levels of service excellence."

All three big local insurers are accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, but Independent Health is the only one of the three to earn the J.D. Power distinction.

However, insurers must apply to J.D. Power to be evaluated, and neither HealthNow New York, parent of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, nor Univera Healthcare have applied.

Only one in five insurers who apply receive the distinction as top service providers. Companies are reviewed and honored on a rolling basis during the course of the year.

The honor is the latest coup for Independent Health, the region's No. 2 health insurer, which has been battling a decline in membership because of tight competition for big sole contracts.

At the same time, it has received similar recognition for its service from Consumer Reports magazine and from NCQA beyond basic accreditation.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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