Project Scope

Selecting Insurance Plan Shouldn’t Require a Rocket Science Degree

For the New Yorkers who don’t have insurance through their employer or other means, get their coverage through New York State of Health. In 2018, 12 carriers offer individual plans, 15 offer “Basic” plans, and 5 offer small business insurance. That’s a lot of digging to find the best match an individual has to complete. This project tackled improvement specifically to the plan search/browse, and plan selection workflow.

To establish empathy for users of NY Healthcare Marketplace, I delayed visiting the homepage . Instead, I read articles and news stories to fully understand target users and their first hand problem. Only then, did I choose to visit the page: taking notes of pain points, user flows, and anything else that stood out.

Oh boy, was it confusing!

Problem Statement

New Yorkers need an improved Healthcare Marketplace website to browse and sign up for insurance plans best suited for their needs.


Borrowing from my own experience selecting insurance plan, I came into the project with assumptions of users’ decision processes. Whether these held true was the starting point of my research. Doing so, helped me clear my mental blocks and develop stronger empathy.

  • Enrollees compare plans
  • Comparing plans should be very easy
  • Take time to decide
  • Contact someone to ask specific questions
  • Cost is most important factor when deciding
  • Too many choices is overwhelming
  • Need more filters to limit options
  • Keep same plan year after year
  • Look for specific things (cost, deductible, etc)
  • Experience financial losses when choosing “wrong” plan
  • Recognizable insurance company = more likely to choose
  • Terminology is too complex

Identifying persona(s) was fairly easy, given that a lot  of information of enrollees exists online. It became apparent early that two personas were needed to best suit users’ needs.


Selecting Plan for Self

40 years old
Single, male
HS diploma
Income: $24,000


Selecting Plan for Household

Husband (38), wife (36), with a 6 year old child
Speak Spanish at home
HS diploma (both), some CC
Combined income: $33,000

Building Empathy

When I took re-visited the homepage, I noticed a CTA which I didn’t see at first visit. A possible key to test my assumptions: a helpline.

Before dialing, I thought of the questions I would ask the representative on the other end.

  • What are some of the common questions enrollees ask you?
  • Do you help the same people each year?
  • What causes most confusion?
  • Do you know if people who have insurance this year compare to next year’s plans?
  • Do they express confusion of terminology of healthcare (co-insurance, max out of pocket?) or specific to Marketplace words (Metal Level, Ratings)?
  • At what point in their decision making do they reach out?

No matter how I bargained (“this is only for my own personal research” “I’m a student..”), after being put on hold for 15 minutes to speak to a supervisor, my request for answers was declined.

Leaders Lead, Questions Don’t

Interviewing Target Users

With questions drafted from assumptions, I utilized an online service to conduct a questionnaire (N=10). To ensure I spoke to the correct user group, a specific criteria had to be put in place.

Q1. How are you currently receiving healthcare coverage??

Through Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) *
Through another member in my household *
Through my employer
I don’t have insurance

Q2. How long does it take for you to decide on the final plan for the upcoming year?

I choose the same plan year after year
I decide in a few hours
I take a few days to decide
I take weeks to look into my options
I haphazardly choose a new plan last minute

Q3. Do you spend time comparing plans before making a decision?

I compare
I do not compare

Q4/5. What is the FIRST (& SECOND) factor when you’re deciding on a healthcare plan?

In/Out of Network Providers
Benefits Summary
Max Out of Pocket

Q5. If you had a magic wand, what would improve healthcare selection process?

Comparison charts between my top picks
Details on how NEW plan is different from my LAST YEAR’S plan
Contact person to ask specific questions
Explanations of difficult terms (Coinsurance, Health Services Account, Outpatient Services)
More specific filters to narrow down selection
Plan ratings from previous enrollees


What Our Research Revealed

In order to establish trust in the site, we stripped away all the complicated rules and features, ultimately improving navigation and flow with a minimal viable product.

Our proposed solution was to narrow in on a stripped-down minimal viable product. We simplified the entire website experience by eliminating complicated features, minimizing copy for rules, and improving navigation throughout. After conducting all updates, we performed user testing on mid-fidelity prototype.

After collecting all the feedback, our final wireframes were designed; this time, establishing transparency and trust for our users were our primary goal. Without disrupting the flow of our designs, we addressed some pain points with testable features.