What Prevents MA Plans from Offering 5-Star Websites? (Part 3)

Posted by Alan Mittermaier

June 21, 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 content features that every Medicare plan website should provide for enhancing the user engagement experience — with examples.

  1. Drug formulary updates — Only 33% (53 of 160) of sites provide content or links to monthly formulary updates.  Plans are now required to post formulary updates on their websites in lieu of or in addition to notification by mail.   HealthPartners and MVP offer the best examples.
  2. Website privacy/security assurance — Surprisingly, only 21% (33 of 160) of websites provide a visible website privacy/security verification image on their pages.  Members who do online banking, investing or purchasing are accustomed to seeing privacy/security verification images elsewhere that provide “peace of mind” that their personal information is secure.  Check out Kaiser Permanente, ConnectiCare Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
  3. Emergency/disaster care instructions — Just short of 38% (61 of 160) of sites post details for members to access care and obtain prescriptions during declared emergencies/disasters.  Devastating fires, blizzards, hurricanes, floods that put members well-being at risk should not be compounded by the lack of clear instructions on how to access essential care and prescriptions.   Best examples for such instructions are Aetna, AvMed, Florida Blue.

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

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