Posted by Alan Mittermaier
June 5, 2017
As a Medicare Advantage plan member and 67 year old boomer, I have first-hand perspective both from navigating all 147 Medicare plan websites recently and from my daily use of an array of websites for personal purposes — news, banking, travel, hobbies, purchases. From such perspective, I can attest there are many more mediocre plan websites than 5-star websites. Too many websites grow stale (even boring) and offer little good reason for plan members or caregivers to bookmark them for frequent visits.
For starters, here are tips to avoid the curse of the stale Medicare plan website.
- Think fresh content — The social media boom has upended how all internet users, including boomers, communicate both in terms of speed and frequency. We go on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and similar social media platforms for fresh content. Why should Medicare plan websites limit their appeal with predominantly static content? Refreshing content and informing website visitors about dates for upcoming new content will increase bookmark loyalty and website stickiness. Relying on various social media platforms for providing fresh content is well and good, however, don’t overlook the member retention value of keeping website content fresh as well.
- Go for transparency — Virtually every Medicare Advantage website short-changes its plan members, caregivers and prospects on transparency. The lack of transparency is never more evident than in the presentation of CMS Star ratings. Posting the minimum overall Star ratings proscribed by the Medicare Marketing Guidelines is of limited value to well-informed beneficiaries without supporting details. The lone standout for full Star rating transparency is Tufts Health Plan that posts the sub-category performance Star ratings for its health plan (5 sub-categories) and drug plan (4 sub-categories). Other areas lacking in transparency are the posting of drug formulary changes and Medicare national coverage determinations (NCDs).
- Member portals matter — Nearly 75% of all Medicare plan websites offer a member-only portal feature, yet fewer than 50% of those member portals go beyond the basic options — e.g., member account details, billing status, change of contact information. Engaging plan members and caregivers should be the “holy grail” for every Medicare plan website. Offer members the capability to view their health performance — e.g., test results, wellness activity participation — against their personal goals. Provide member-only access to health education videos, online health quizzes and interviews with healthcare professionals. Feature recommended mobile apps and similar resources that support healthy choices and lifestyles.
(This is the fourth in a series highlighting the 2017 MedicareWebWatch project findings)