Simplifying insurance education and shopping
Kaiser Permanente 2020
The Medicare Advantage experience was the first phase of redesigning and unifying the shopping experience at Kaiser Permanente, that our team of 2 designers tackled. This project also represented a small but important steps towards a better process for digital products at KP - introducing new tools like Figma, processes like design sprints, and concepts like job stories.
The current retention rate of customers from individual plans to Medicare is quite admirable and the envy of other providers but had begun to fall. In order to become more responsive to changes from the digital side one of the main challenges was to move off of older infrastructure to the company wide CMS. The two main OKRs for this project are to increase member retention and to decrease call center call volume. Parallel to this effort to transform the digital properties has been an operational transformation effort and rebranding - which unfortunately was not yet available for use in this project.
During the discovery process we spoke to senior citizens, learned from our Medicare call center team, and did our own secondary research. Medicare is a national insurance program that most citizens become eligible for when they reach age 65. As with many government programs it wasn’t exactly designed to be easy to understand. The options and how to package the benefits, eligibility, and enrollment periods are all exceptionally convoluted.
Creating a guided experience
We heard from our participants the desire to be guided, and many had their own planning tools and checklists to ensure they knew what to do and when. On our initial sprint we tested a prototype to help guide folks through the steps to get covered through an interactive checklist. While the guided experience was overwhelmingly positively received, our participants didn’t feel ready to enroll and wanted more education. The process of preparing to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan isn’t something that can be finished in a weekend and can take months or even years between steps.
There’s no shortage of literature being thrown at Medicare aged folks. During our discovery research our participants described being inundated with marketing brochures around their 64th birthday – as insurers clamor for their business. And many participants that we spoke to didn’t realize how to sign up for Medicare, how it works, or that late sign up can come with lifelong penalties in the form of higher rates. Education is obviously important but the way in which we communicate and disambiguate concepts is critical. We acted on these learnings in a few ways - one to create a small set of educational articles that are action oriented and also to flatten and simplify how we organize our content.
At the time of writing the Medicare Advantage shopping website is live with some experiences like the enrollment checklist nearing deployment. In our new and improved experience we support the activities of planning, shopping, and education in a navigationally simple website. These activities were designed to support our customers expressed needs so that when it comes time to apply they feel supported and ready.
The released checklist iteration was re-focused and scoped down to generate the appropriate enrollment period with tasks and supporting education to stay on time and avoid penalties. And the plan listing section was brought to the front page of the website rather than being tucked away behind the enrollment form as it was in the old website.
The next experience that is currently being tackled is individual and family plans as well as unifying the application process. Our team introduced some of the last design patterns into our recently deprecated design system - for better or worse. The designs in this project are based on the previous design system, as the latest system was not yet approved for use. Potentially Medicare Advantage will be revisited for at least a visual refresh to bring it up to date with the new design system.