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Choice Architecture: Design Decisions that Affect Consumers’ Health Plan Choices

Choice Architecture: Design Decisions that Affect Consumers’ Health Plan Choices
July 9, 2012

Choice architecture – how choices are structured – profoundly influences the decisions that people make. This CU report explores how six health plan chooser tools — ehealthinsurance, CMS plan finder, Massachusetts Connector, Consumers Checkbook/FEHBP, PBGH/CalPERS and User Experience 2014 — use choice architecture to guide consumers’ health plan selections.
A key focus of this report is the design decisions that lead to the initial set of search results. Consumer behavior research tells us that, most of the time, consumers rely on the default display of information to make their selection. Special attention is paid to how these tools filter and sort the health plans displayed in the initial results, as well as the health plan attributes (such as deductible or quality rating) that are displayed.
This report will be of particular interest to policymakers and designers crafting the new health benefit exchanges called for by the Affordable Care Act. The Act brings new health insurance choices to American consumers but, unless we pay attention to choice architecture, consumers may not be able to identify the best choice for them.
For the full report, click here (PDF).