A new study released by J.D. Power finds that overall member satisfaction with Medicare Advantage (MA) plans is on the rise, but the plans appear to miss the mark on mental health and substance abuse disorder services.

Improvements in billing and payments, cost, and provider choice have led to an increase in overall customer satisfaction with MA plans this year, but there are some concerning factors brewing beneath the surface, according to the J.D. Power 22 U.S. Medicare Advantage StudySM. Most notably, a majority of MA plan members say they do not have enough coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services.

The findings are based on the responses of 3,094 members of MA plans this summer across the United States. The study, now in its eighth year, measures member satisfaction with MA plans based on six factors (in order of importance): coverage and benefits; provider choice; cost; customer service; information and communication; and billing and payment.

With an estimated 1.7 million Medicare beneficiaries living with a diagnosed substance use disorder and one in four Medicare beneficiaries living with a mental health condition, there is a big opportunity for MA plans to support more patients and families in need, Christopher Lis, managing director, global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power, said in the study announcement.

“Older adults have been affected by loneliness and social isolation that increased throughout the pandemic. For some health plans, coverage can be improved. For others, increasing customer understanding of mental health benefits may be the bigger opportunity as beneficiaries might be aware that some coverage is available but may not fully understand which services and medications are covered,” he said. “But coverage does not always guarantee access, as finding providers who accept Medicare may be a challenge in some areas.”

Among the key findings of the study:

  • Overall customer satisfaction with MA plans is 809 (on a 1,000-point scale), which is up 3 points from 2021 and up 15 points during the past five years
  • Ninety-one percent of members say they have enough coverage for routine diagnostics and 89 percent report they have enough coverage for preventive and wellness services
  • Thirty-eight percent of MA plan members say they have enough coverage for mental health treatment, down from 39 percent a year ago
  • Just 27 percent of members say they have enough coverage for substance use disorder services
  • Twenty-four percent of MA members say they used telemedicine during the past year, down from 35 percent in 2021
  • Among those who have used the telemedicine technology, 48 percent say they are very likely to use it again, an increase of five percentage points from last year
  • Most (82 percent) of MA members have registered for their plan’s member portal —up four percentage points from a year ago
  • Fourteen percent, however, have registered for the portal but never logged in
  • Overall customer satisfaction scores are 72 points higher (823) when customers register and log-in to the portal than when they do neither (751)