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Area health insurers rate well in latest J.D. Power rankings

Buffalo Niagara’s three main insurers all scored well on member satisfaction in the latest J.D. Power and Associates rankings of health insurance companies.

Independent Health of Amherst is the No. 2 health insurance company for member satisfaction in the New York and New Jersey region, according to J.D. Power. That marks the second year in a row Independent Health finished second to CDPHP, the Albany-based insurer that last year unveiled a strategic affiliation with Independent Health.

“During this time of great change and complexity in the health care industry, it’s reassuring to know that we continue to meet our members’ needs,” Dr. Michael W. Cropp, Independent Health’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York finished third out of the 12 health plans rated by J.D. Power, while Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, which does business here as Univera Healthcare, finished fourth.

This is the ninth year for the J.D. Power study, which reviewed the performance of 134 health plans in 18 regions of the country. More than 31,000 plan members were surveyed in November and December.

The assessment measured the plans’ member satisfaction in six categories, including provider choice, claims processing, cost and customer service. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale, and insurers also receive between 1 and 5 “Power Circles" – J.D. Power’s version of stars.

Insurers that built trust and loyalty by focusing on their customers performed well, even at a time when federal health care reform has upended the traditional health-insurance model, J.D. Power said in announcing the latest rankings this week.

The average national score for member satisfaction was 679, up 10 points from the 2014 review. In the New York New Jersey region, the average member satisfaction score was 674, up from 658 the year before.

Independent Health scored 733, up from 705, and earned five Power Circles. BlueCross BlueShield, which serves the Albany market as BlueShield of Northeastern New York, earned 692, up from 668, and received four Power Circles.

“Our steadfast focus is to serve our members, so we are pleased with this year’s results placing our health plan in the top tier. Moving up year over year, particularly as the only top-ranked plan in two upstate New York markets, is a strong endorsement of our customer service team members in Buffalo and Albany,” Julie Snyder, a BlueCross BlueShield spokeswoman, said in an email.

Excellus had a score of 688, up from 660, with four Power Circles.

Not every insurer that does business in New York and New Jersey is included in the rankings. Two insurers that picked up a number of customers through the NY State of Health insurance exchange – Health Republic Insurance and Fidelis Care – were not ranked because, according to J.D. Power, they didn’t meet the minimum number of enrollees to be included.

Companies do not pay to be included in the rankings, nor can qualifying plans opt to be excluded. But they must subscribe to the study to see the full results.