What Prevents MA Plans from Offering 5-Star Websites? (Part 2)

Posted by Alan Mittermaier

May 14, 2018

While only a handful of 2018 Medicare Advantage plans can boast 5-Star CMS overall performance ratings (total of 11 by my count), every plan is capable of building a 5-Star website for their key target audiences — plan members, caregivers, prospects.  Yet, after mapping Medicare plan websites annually since 2009 for the MedicareWebWatch project, it is still disappointing to observe the low engagement experience among so many websites.

The new 2018 MedicareWebWatch project findings breakout 9 “Benchmark” or 5-Star websites plus another 34 “Distinguished” websites.  These highly-rated websites are  not exclusively among the largest Medicare Advantage players.  Many mid-size plan websites are among the highest rated as well.  The common thread among these “Benchmark” and  “Distinguished” websites is their commitment to elevating the user engagement experience.

As a Medicare Advantage plan member and 68 year old boomer, I have a first-hand perspective both from navigating all 160 Medicare plan websites recently and from my daily use of an array of websites for personal purposes — news, banking, travel, purchases.  Below are three advance content features that every Medicare plan website should provide for enhancing the user engagement experience — with examples.

  1. New member orientation — Only 29% (46 of 160) of sites provide content or links to new member orientation materials or advice for new members.  Fallon Health and Presbyterian Health Plan offer the best examples.  Special mention to Priority Health for its “Medicare for Dummies” downloadable publication for both new members and prospects.  Providing new member orientation and/or new member advice on websites is an essential reinforcement strategy for maximizing long-term member retention.
  2. Health risk/personal health assessment — Surprisingly, only 32% (51 of 160) of websites provide a health risk or personal health assessment feature either in an online or downloadable format.  Both an initial assessment upon enrollment and annual re-assessments represent a valuable measure for ensuring healthy outcomes that also impact CMS performance ratings.   Check out Security Health Plan (via WebMD), Soundpath Health, Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan (CDPHP).
  3. Paperless member document delivery — Just short of 22% (35 of 160) of sites offer members the ‘green’ option to opt-in for paperless document delivery.   This addresses the ‘annoyance factor’ among members who become frustrated with print documents — especially the provider and formulary directories — filling their mailboxes and adding to household clutter.   Best examples for offering paperless options are BCBS Michigan, HealthPartners, SCAN.

(This is the second in a series highlighting the 2018 MedicareWebWatch project findings)

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