Simple Healthcare Problems Draw Worker Ire

February 10, 2003 ( - About half the respondents to a new survey reported at least one healthcare plan problem in the past year, but just 13% complained to their employer.

Since paperwork and billing concerns actually triggered more patient complaints than the quality of their health care, it’s perhaps not surprising that 59% complained directly to their health plan, according to a recent study in Milbank Quarterly reported by HealthScoutNews.   What is more surprising is that problems with health-care quality are at least as common as administrative problems, according to the report.

The study found many people don’t complain even when they have serious problems with the quality of their health care, but that those who did complain were five times as likely to have their concerns resolved in a successful manner.   They were also more likely to complain, and to have their complaints resolved, when a third party (family member, doctor, etc.) was involved.

People were most likely to complain about simple problems, rather than complex problems, and about repeated and costly problems.

While blacks and Asian Americans were half as likely to complain about problems as Caucasians, but their complaints were just as effective as complaints made by whites.

The study used data from the 1999 Kaiser Family Foundation’s National Survey on Consumer Experiences with Health Plans.