HealthCare.gov Online User Experiences

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How are insurance shoppers outside California faring with the federal HealthCare.gov website? Direct observation of online enrollees shows ways the marketplace can be improved.

June 2014

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expands coverage options and provides an opportunity to streamline the enrollment process in public and private coverage. CHCF funded an assessment of HealthCare.gov to identify actionable ways to improve consumer experience with online enrollment.

The assessment uses a methodology not common in the public sector — direct observation of consumers as they move through the website. This technique captures sources of consumer satisfaction, knowledge, confusion, and frustration. The most compelling findings relate to assisting consumers with plan shopping and selection, providing adequate help throughout the process, and ensuring accuracy in consumers' responses to application questions. The report concludes with researchers' recommendations for improvement.

The summary of the research findings is available under Document Downloads.

Short Videos of Users on the HealthCare.gov Website

The brief videos below highlight some of the challenges faced by the study participants outside California as they used the federal HealthCare.gov website to enroll in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

  • Positive Impressions: Participants had anxiety about applying for health insurance and were surprised and relieved by the ease-of-use and clean look and feel of HealthCare.gov.

  • Quitting Points: There were several points at which participants abandoned, or would have abandoned, the online process to seek phone or in-person help.

  • Areas of Uncertainty — General Context: Participants were unsure about some ACA concepts such as "deadlines" and "tax credits," and they didn't always find adequate explanations or help.

  • Areas of Uncertainty — Site Elements: Some participants had challenges providing income and household information, logging into the system, and navigating through certain parts of the site.