Customer satisfaction with private health insurers has declined to 71.0% in October 2017, down by 0.2 percentage point for the month and 3.4 points below the same time last year, new findings by market research firm Roy Morgan show.
This level is down on the peak of 76.4% recorded in June 2015 and is the lowest satisfaction rating since 2010.
These are the latest findings from Roy Morgan’s Single Source survey of over 50,000 consumers per annum, including coverage of over 17,000 private health insurance members.
Mr Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan said: “With a great deal of negative publicity being given to the rapidly rising cost of private health insurance, it is not surprising that satisfaction levels of funds have been declining for a number of years.
"It is worth noting that a number of smaller funds have shown that it is possible to improve even in this environment.”
Smaller funds lead in satisfaction
The top five performers (among the 15 largest funds) for private health insurance satisfaction over the last year were all smaller funds and had satisfaction levels well above the market average. The top fund was Teachers Health with 83.4% satisfaction, followed by TUH Health Fund (82.8%), Defence Health (82.8%), CBHS (82.1%) and Health Partners (80.9%). The only funds to show improvements in satisfaction over the last 12 months were TUH Health Fund (up by 3.7 points) and Australian Unity (up by 2.1 points).
Satisfaction with the two largest funds remain below the market average (71.0%), with BUPA on 68.3% (down by 5.1 points over the year) and Medibank Private 66.8% (down by 3.0 points).
Members of larger health funds not as likely to recommend them
Less than half the members of the major health funds would be ‘highly likely’ (with a score of 8 to 10 on a 10-point scale) to recommend their fund to friends or colleagues. Only 36.9% of Medibank Private members consider that they would be ‘highly likely’ to recommend them and BUPA had the second lowest score with 42.9%.
The best overall performer for advocacy was Defence Health, with nearly three quarters (72.3%) of members being ‘highly likely’ to recommend them, they were closely followed by Teachers Health with 71.8%. The biggest improvers over the last year for advocacy were Defence Health (up 2.9% points), HCF (up 2.1% points and Australian Unity (up 1.8% points).
Mr Morris said: “Our research shows that by far the major reason that fund members either drop out altogether or change funds, is to do with cost. As a result of these cost pressures, the proportion of the population with private health insurance over the last year has declined from 46.6% to 45.3%. Indications from our survey are that this decline is likely to continue over the next year, as shown by the fact that there is an increase in the proportion of fund members saying they will drop their private health insurance over the next 12 months.
“In this difficult and highly regulated competitive market, where factors impacting on the cost of private health insurance are largely outside the control of the funds, it remains critical that the larger funds learn from the smaller who not only show that they have the highest satisfaction but also some have been able to improve this even further.”