Leapfrog: Employers Give Health Plans a ‘C’ Letter Grade


Employers “remain disappointed” in their health plans, giving them an average letter grade of “C,” according to a new survey.

The report was published Thursday by The Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization of employers. The online survey was conducted in the summer and included responses from 114 executives of companies, who were asked to rate their health plan on four key issues: responsiveness of the health plan to employer concerns, transparency in helping employers and employees choose providers, payment reform initiatives and value strategies. Some of the health plans cited include Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Participants of the survey were asked to give their health plan an “A” through “F” letter grade. From those letter grades, Leapfrog calculated the health plans’ average Grade Point Average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale. Health plans received a 2.29 GPA in 2022, a slight decrease from Leapfrog’s prior survey in 2020, which had a 2.57 GPA.

“This is a somewhat depressing result if you’re a health plan,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog, during a Thursday panel. “I think health plans should be getting A’s. Certainly I think all the health plans themselves would want to be getting A’s. That’s not what their clients are giving them.”

The survey also asked respondents to say if they strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with a series of characteristics in regards to their health plan. The highest ranked characteristic was “gives employees easy access to usable data,” with 59% of employers saying they agreed or strongly agreed with this statement about their health plan. The second highest ranked characteristic was “cares about quality of healthcare received,” with 57% saying they agreed. The lowest ranked characteristics were “satisfied with alternative payment model options offered by plan” (29% agreeing) and “shares quality and safety data” (26% agreeing).

“We did see that employers perceive significant room for improvement across all categories,” Binder said. “There were no outstanding results.”

There were some significant changes in responses compared to two years ago. In the 2020 report, 13% of respondents said they agreed that their health plan “shares quality and safety data,” compared to 26% in 2022. Additionally, 53% said they disagreed with this statement in 2020 and 35% said they disagreed in 2022. When it came to being “satisfied with alternative payment model options offered,” 26% said they agreed in 2020, and 29% said they agreed in 2022. There was a bigger shift in employers disagreeing with this statement, however, increasing from 30% in 2020 to 41% in 2022.

To see how health plans can improve moving forward, Leapfrog analyzed the responses from employers who gave their health plans an “A” or “B” grade. About 89% of these employers said their health plan “cares about quality of healthcare received,” 84% said “improving employee health is a priority” for their health plan and 79% said their health plan “gives employees easy access to usable data.”

“You can see that for those employers who are most favorable to their health plan, they perceive their health plans overwhelmingly as caring about the quality of healthcare received,” Binder said.

Photo: Tero Vesalainen, Getty Images

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