Market Overview

New Research Identifies Best Practices for Helping Seniors Select a Medicare Plan Online


Ample research exists to conclude that America's seniors do not reshop for their Medicare drug coverage each year during the annual enrollment period. However, new research from Change Sciences is the first to compare the performance of the various online resources seniors have available to help reshop their drug coverage.

NEW YORK, Oct. 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- New independent research conducted by Change Sciences Group aims to better understand what seniors face when seeking Medicare benefits online.  The new independent research from Change Sciences, was sponsored by eHealth, Inc. (Nasdaq: EHTH).

A 2016 Yale and MIT research project found that seniors are not getting better at selecting Medicare prescription plans that have the best value, because their options are so complex. To overcome this complexity, websites that aim to help seniors select Medicare plans should be focused on simplifying the user experience so that seniors can make better decisions and save money. is the Federal Government web site engineered to aid seniors in this process, but there has been little research to compare the performance of the or comparable private sector web sites built with the similar goal of helping to guide seniors through this process.

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Research Summary
During the month of July, 600 seniors were invited to participate in a detailed online user research study. Each senior was shown one of five leading Medicare websites and asked to find a Medicare plan that would meet their needs.

As an additional task, participants were asked to use the site to find when the Medicare enrollment period begins. No personal information was collected and each participant was asked to use the same date of birth and zip code to ensure consistency of results on each site. The sites studied included:

  • AARP Medicare
  • Kaiser Permanente Medicare

Immediately after completing the two tasks on each site, participants were asked survey questions designed to measure their experience across six dimensions: usability, trust, informativeness, visual appeal, engagement and loyalty. The data were collected using Change Sciences' SoundingBox software which combines replays of what participants did on each site with how they felt of about their experience determined by open and closed-end survey questions.

High-Level Results
All sites needed to prioritize higher value content and make text easier to scan.

The most common challenges faced by seniors on certain sites included:

  • Trouble figuring out how to get started from the home page
  • Difficulty understanding Medicare terms due to a lack of contextual help during the plan selection process
  • Plan results which were lengthy and hard to filter due to unconventional interaction and design
  • Information about benefits that were unclear or that didn't highlight relevant details such as premiums and deductibles
  • Perceived poor visual site design, which impacted usability, engagement and credibility

Top Performers
Seniors had the easiest time finding a plan that met their needs on, and AARP Medicare, in that order. People had a harder time finding when the enrollment period begins on all the sites. Each site performed about the same for this task.

Overall two site groups emerged with significant differences between them: higher performing sites (, and AARP Medicare), and lower performing sites ( and Kaiser Permanente Medicare). The higher performing group fared better by a significant margin for an overall experience score, for visual appeal, and for usability, including ease of navigation., a private healthcare marketplace for Medicare plans developed by eHealth Inc., scored 16% better overall than (a statistically significant margin). These numbers are based on aggregated scores from survey questions asked after completing the two tasks.

Specific statistically significant differences between and included the following:

  • Participants indicated a 18% greater likelihood to return to compared to
  • was rated 21% easier to use overall than
  • was rated as 17% easier to navigate than
  • was 24% more visually appealing than
  • People felt had a 23% cleaner and simpler presentation than

The user experiences developed by web marketplaces of private plans generally did better than, but did not score better across the board.

"We are dedicated to finding ways that technology can improve lives. It would be hard to find a place where this could have more impact than in the Medicare marketplace. This research has been a great fit for our new SoundingBox platform, which provides a powerful way to understand how seniors currently experience getting Medicare plans and information online," said Steve Ellis, co-founder of Change Sciences and lead developer of SoundingBox.

For more information about the study please visit:

About Change Sciences
Change Sciences is a group of design researchers, user experience strategists, and data scientists dedicated to understanding the impact of technology on well-being. Change Sciences has worked with hundreds of organizations in financial services, healthcare, entertainment, travel, government, e-commerce, and e-learning to create more human-friendly sites and apps.

Kelly Nolan 
1185 6th Ave
New York, NY 10036
Ph: 914.204.1268

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SOURCE Change Sciences Group

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