Of all Utah's Medicaid managed care plans, the state-run option has traditionally been the most popular.
Yet it gets the lowest customer service rating, according to new Utah Department of Health data.
Customers surveyed for the 2012 Consumer Satisfaction Report of Utah Health Plans gave the state-run program, Select Access, a lower overall rating than competing plans run by Molina Healthcare and the University of Utah, and the lowest score for customer service.
The federal data are published annually to aid consumers in choosing a health plan, said Keely Allen, the Utah Health Department's Health Plan Program Manager.
But the state-run program's unflagging dominance suggests either Medicaid recipients don't use the tool, or they don't find it useful.
Then again, all Medicaid plans get higher marks than Utah's private insurance plans.
Health officials are looking to improve measures for gauging the quality of Medicaid plans as they transition to become Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) where doctors will be held accountable for improving the health of their patients.
Currently, in addition to the customer satisfaction survey, the state measures how many patients get recommended check-ups and disease screenings.
The trick, says Allen, is finding a way to blend and balance the two.
"When people say quality improvement, what do they really mean?" asked Allen. "The right care at the right time for the right conditions? Or do they mean less care or less expensive care?"
Consumers score Utah insurers
Customers were asked to rate their health plans on a scale of 0 for "worst possible" to 10 for "best possible." The list shows the percentage of clients who gave their health plan a rating of 8 or above.
University of Utah's HealthyU: 86 percent
Molina Healthcare: 85 percent
State-run Medicaid: 84 percent
Private HMOs: Health Maintenance Organizations
Intermountain Healthcare's SelectHealth: 64 percent
Public Employee Health Plan: 62 percent
Altius: 55 percent
Private PPOs: Preferred Provider Organizations
Deseret Mutual: 82 percent
Aetna: 60 percent
United Healthcare: 59 percent
Regent BlueCross BlueShield: 56 percent
EMI Health: 55 percent
Cigna: 54 percent
Humana: 38 percent
Source: Utah Department of Health, http://1.usa.gov/XeVSa6