Measuring the pace of change in desktop health insurance sites

This July, the Health Plan Monitor published a pace of change report evaluating the changes health insurers made to their desktop sites over the last year. The report tracked and examined how frequently 21 insurers updated their public and member sites. In total, we observed 577 site changes over a year from the insurers—which we rated as high-, medium- and low-significance—and sorted into eight categories:

  • Alerts, Education & Information
  • Coverage & Account Details
  • Design & Navigation
  • Homepage & Dashboards
  • Login & Security
  • Plan Servicing
  • Products, Services & Coverage
  • Tools & Digital Resources

Overall, our healthcare team found that insurers were focusing their efforts on digital improvements, particularly on member sites and with improved tools and resources. Below are some of the key findings from that report:

Member site changes are less frequent but feature more important updates

According to our 2023 consumer survey, most respondents (70%) log in to their health insurer’s desktop site at least once a month. This frequency suggests firms should continue to optimize member sites for improved communication, care, and understanding of one’s coverage and benefits, as member sites are a frequent touchpoint.

  • While member site changes accounted for 37% of the total website changes, 69% of high-significance updates were behind the login
  • About a third of firms made 10 or more changes on the member site

Aetna implemented the most member site updates (30), followed by Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealthcare (21 each). Coverage & Account Details and Login & Security saw many changes, with notable examples including new two-factor authentication abilities and new pages about coordination of benefits, service usage and limitation, and prescription coverage overviews.

This graph shows the distribution of healthcare site changes on both the public and member sites
Distribution of Healthcare Site Changes

Tools & Digital Resources accounted for a quarter of all high- and medium-significance changes

Tools & Digital Resources contributed to about a fifth (19%) of all total changes. About half (52%) of the updates to Tools & Digital Resources were of high or medium significance, accounting for a quarter of all high- and medium-significance changes in the past year.

All firms introduced at least one Tools & Digital Resources related change, whether on the public or member site. Other than Alerts, Education & Information, this was the only other category in which all firms made updates. Kaiser Permanente made the most updates in this category (12), followed by Anthem BCBS with 11. Notable changes pertained to:

  • Chatbots
    • Anthem BCBS rolled out a quote tool virtual assistant
    • Arkansas BCBS added a member site live chat tool
    • EmblemHealth integrated a virtual assistant into its live chat tool
    • Florida Blue introduced a provider locator tool virtual assistant
This screenshot shows EmblemHealth's virtual assistant
EmblemHealth Member Site Virtual Assistant
  • Cost estimator tools
    • Aetna and UPMC Health Plan introduced Healthsparq-powered tools
    • BCBS of Massachusetts added a billing code cost estimator tool
    • Harvard Pilgrim rolled out a tool for members to find costs for behavioral healthcare treatment
    • Humana and SelectHealth implemented Change Healthcare-powered cost estimator tools
    • Several firms added the ability to view Healthsparq-powered tools in Spanish
  • Quote tools
    • Anthem BCBS enabled users to complete plan applications without needing to create an account to do so
    • Cigna updated its site so that users can review their applicant information and share their screen with an agent when moving through the Supplemental Insurance quote tool
    • Oscar unveiled a Stride Health-powered quote tool
    • As the new year approached, several firms added dropdown menus for users to view plans for either 2022 or 2023
    • Firms placed additional plan information on result pages and reorganized details for increased visibility
  • Provider locator tools
    • Aetna updated its result page to show results in a map view, in addition to the existing list view
    • Independence Blue Cross introduced a Healthsparq-powered tool
    • Kaiser Permanente made it so members can share results after searching for a provider
    • UnitedHealthcare added the ability to report incorrect provider information
    • Firms introduced additional provider information on result and profile pages, such as virtual visit offerings, accepted plans, offered services and areas of expertise
    • New filters appeared across various tools, such as telehealth, patient age and ratings
This screenshow shows UnitedHealthcare's provider information correction tool
UnitedHealthcare Member Site Provider Locator Tool Is This Provider’s Information Incorrect? Section

For more insights into digital innovation in the healthcare space, check out our research services in four areas: Health PlanMedicareHealth System and Pharmacy. Or take a look at our Healthcare Briefings if you’re interested in a specific topic. And don’t forget to check out our Insights section for more industry trends and best practices in the healthcare space and across the financial services industry.

Blake Floyd

Blake Floyd is an Analyst on CI's healthcare team.