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Survey finds most at Stanford are satisfied with health care plans

STANFORD -- A survey conducted among Stanford University employees last August found that the vast majority of the respondents were satisfied with their health care plan, the office of Total Compensation says.

Thirty-four percent of Stanford employees enrolled in the four health care plans the university offers responded. The surveys were distributed by each health plan to its enrollees.

Those who considered themselves "satisfied" with their health care plan ranged from 82 percent for Triple Option to 94.7 percent for TakeCare. The percentage of Kaiser subscribers who considered themselves satisfied was 92.9 percent, and Health Net was deemed satisfactory by 89.9 percent.

Elise Pomerantz-Watzka, project manager of health and welfare plans in the Office of Total Compensation, said the slightly lower level of satisfaction with Triple Option - which was included for the first time last year - when compared with the HMOs (health maintenance organizations) is understandable.

Many of those opting for Triple Option previously had been covered by Blue Shield, which afforded maximum flexibility but was becoming prohibitively costly for the university.

"The [Triple Option] plan was brand new and considerably different for many employees," Pomerantz-Watzka said. "Some of the clinics had difficulty learning how to administer the referral process."

Overall, however, "We feel pretty good about these figures," she said.

The office is considering doing future surveys within all the plans offered, to identify areas that require improvement and to determine if satisfaction with Triple Option increases as it becomes a more familiar health care option, she said.

"We're also interested in determining satisfaction with hospital and primary medical groups, since they are most responsible for the quality of care."

In addition, Total Compensation will present the findings to each of the four health care plans in an effort to improve the quality of service for Stanford employees and their dependents.

Majority satisfied with care

When asked specifically to rate the overall health care offered by each of the plans, the percentages of those satisfied were also very high. For Kaiser, 87.9 percent of those responding were satisfied; 89.3 percent were happy with the care under Triple Option; 93 percent of Health Net subscribers and 95.8 percent of those using TakeCare were likewise satisfied.

Questions involved members' assessment of access, finances, technical/clinical quality, communication, choice and continuity, interpersonal care, outcomes and management of care.

In all four plans, at least eight out of 10 respondents were satisfied with the administration (services covered, information provided, paperwork, care costs and management of coverage). For Triple Option, 82.7 percent were satisfied; Kaiser was acceptable for 89.8 percent; Health Net was rated satisfactory by 89.1 percent and TakeCare was rated satisfactory by 93.8 percent.

Pluses, minuses

Subscribers also were asked to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their plan:

  • For Triple Option, strengths included location of doctor's office; access to hospital care; skill, experience and training of doctors; and friendliness/courtesy. Minuses included confusion over what services were offered, lack of information on actual costs of care, limited choice of doctors, delays in care while waiting for approvals, and availability of appointments.
  • Kaiser was cited positively for hospital access, availability of prescription services, the financial protection it affords, the skill and experience of doctors, and freedom from delays caused by approvals. Negatives for Kaiser members included the limited choice of doctors, the amount of time each patient spent with doctors and staff, and long waits for appointments for routine care.
  • Pluses for Health Net included location of doctor's office, access to hospital care, availability of prescription services, explanations of procedures, friendliness/courtesy, and overall quality of care and service. Minuses mentioned by Health Net subscribers included long waits for appointments for routine care, arrangements for making appointments by phone, time spent in the waiting room, and availability of information and advice over the phone.
  • TakeCare pluses were identified as location of doctor's office, access to hospital care, access to specialty care, access to emergency care, availability of prescription services, business hours, skill and experience of doctors, good communications, ease and clarity of paperwork, and quality of coverage. Negatives included long waits for appointments for routine care, time spent in the waiting room, availability of information and advice over the phone, and advice on ways to avoid illness and stay healthy.



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