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Room for Improvement: Consumers' Experience Enrolling Online with Covered California

gotoresearch and Claudia Page
How did consumers fare during Covered California's third open enrollment period? User testing reveals that enrolling in health coverage online remains a challenge.

Users of Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace, have found the online application process to be fraught with difficulties.

This report describes findings from direct, unscripted observations of people attempting to enroll online during the second and third open enrollment periods (2014-15 and 2015-16). This real-time consumer user research captured the challenges that participants experienced. Across both years, few study participants were able to complete an online renewal or enrollment during the research session.

Improving Online Health Insurance Marketplaces

Further research on this topic by Claudia Page for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's State Health Reform Assistance Network offers a national perspective on how consumer user experience (UX) assessments can improve online enrollment in the ACA health insurance marketplaces and draws heavily on CHCF's assessments of Covered California. See the issue brief.


Common problems included:

  • Many participants spent a significant amount of time reviewing plan options in the "window shopping" parts of the website, not realizing that actual plan choice occurs only in the application.
  • Unclear guidance and questions related to income and household size resulted in errors in critical sections of the application.
  • Poorly designed online forms and processes frustrated users and diminished their confidence in the site.

Watch this video of research participants explaining the roadblocks they encounter while navigating the online application process.

The full report is available under Document Downloads.

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