Consumers who own individual health insurance tend to be less satisfied than members of large group plans, but not dramatically less satisfied.

Researchers at J.D. Power and Associates, Westlake Village, Calif., have reported health plan satisfaction figures in a summary of results from a recent survey of 33,000 U.S. health plan members.

Researchers at J.D. Power and Associates Inc., Westlake Village, Calif., have reported health plan satisfaction figures in a summary of results from a recent survey of 33,000 U.S. health plan members.

The market research firm looked at consumer satisfaction with 131 plans and found that average satisfaction with plans offered by employers with 1,000 or more employees were noticeably higher than average satisfaction with individual plans, or with plans at employers with 50 or fewer employees.

In recent years, consumer groups have argued that consumers who buy individual health insurance are unhappy with the insurance because those consumers face large, poorly explained gaps in coverage.

J.D. Power found that large group health plans scored 725 in terms of satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 1,000. The satisfaction score was 692 for small group plans and 694 for holders of individual health insurance policies.

The difference between the large group satisfaction score and the individual and small group satisfaction scores was less than 5%.

The national satisfaction scores for individual and small group health insurance were similar to the average satisfaction score for all health plans in Colorado and

J.D. Power survey participants supported consumer groups’ contention that consumers have concerns about health plan communications.

“Information and communication is the third most important factor for members but, on average, health plans get very low scores in this area,” J.D. Power reports. “Consequently, improving satisfaction for this factor provides an opportunity for health insurance providers to improve overall member satisfaction.”