Appnovation Vancouver, BC


Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) offers comprehensive health insurance plans for individuals, families, Medicare and businesses.

However, as members turned 65 and became eligible for Medicare, Blue Cross NC lacked a seamless digital experience to help members find the right coverage for them. Their Medicare web pages were not treated any differently to the rest of their website despite having a distinctly different demographic with specific user experience criteria. This resulted in a low retention rate for existing members turning 65, who were aging out of their employer-sponsored insurance plans. Only 27% of members were continuing their journey into Medicare with them.

A significant factor for the low retention rate was that existing members are treated the same as new users. Forms were complicated and required members to re-enter their personal data to get a plan recommendation. Medicare can be daunting and Blue Cross NC offered no real customer incentive to remain with them.

Our objective was to make choosing a Medicare plan easier, more accurate and more human for members. We redesigned Plan Finder as a user-first digital tool that built on the data Blue Cross NC members had already given to recommend a plan that would best suit their lifestyle.

The Medicare audience has a distinct set of needs, so we started with a research phase. Leveraging our own research and in-depth research provided by Blue Cross NC, we distilled users into three groups based on their attitudes, financial standings and technological proficiency: Empowered Independents, Engaged Savvy and Traditionalists and Anxious Avoiders.

Then we designed a user experience that addressed the challenges our target demographic was facing. Through testing, we knew that users were frustrated with pages that were hard to read, complicated to navigate and designs that weren't intuitive. Our strategy addressed these issues with fonts and buttons that were 25% larger, layouts with clear instructions and prominent calls-to-action.

We conducted agile usability testing, including establishing a baseline of user performance, validating those user performance measures and identifying potential design concerns to be addressed in order to improve the efficiency, productivity and end-user satisfaction.

We tested our prototypes with 15 participants between the ages of 60-68 that reside within NC. The metrics measured were: completion rates, task time, critical and non-critical errors and eye tracking.

Key Findings:
- Participants quickly found every vital call-to-action button
- Users wanted to compare plans but took a long time to find the compare tool
- Few participants noticed the recommended plan with the left aligned variant
- Participants liked the illustrated background and related to what they thought it was conveying
- Participants liked the zip code confirmation page

We redesigned Plan Finder into an empathetic and more human digital tool to give Blue Cross NC members a Medicare experience they can’t find elsewhere.

The modernized experience begins with an education slider that suggests a pre-selected plan, based on member data they already had. We used a clean and approachable design to create a friendlier space. We also implemented a simple comparison layout to reduce cognitive load.

Key features:
- Illustrations get a more emotional and engaging response from the user while providing a light tone making a daunting experience more enjoyable.

- A conversational tone is established at sign in. This set the precedent that we knew who they were and had their information on file, much like the experience you get in-store once a unique ID is provided.

- For most audiences, minimizing clicks increases conversion. But for this audience, we added pages. One thank you page to convey trust and a loading page before the plan recommendation page. This page wasn’t needed, but according to our research, if a recommended plan was loaded too quickly, there was an instant distrust.

- We built a clean, minimal experience with centered designs and no clutter. All data suggested the intermittent steps works better for this audience. We tested every element for web accessibility.

- Designs prioritized information users wanted to see first. On the left are the costs, on the right are plan benefits, making comparisons easy.

- Every plan highlights the primary care provider and preferred pharmacy to demonstrate that they can continue to visit them with our suggested plan.

Though Blue Cross NC has not yet collected user analytics on the Plan Finder tool, they provided feedback on how our design approach has impacted the organization.

There's been a democratization of process and a more open source culture within the organization where all disciplines are sharing ownership. Our client said, “The best analogy I can think of is the design system is like our design Github where everyone can contribute, learn from and use the design assets for different functions across our team.”

The success of the Plan Finder design has positively impacted the relationship between the internal DX team and the business. Design aspects of the tool design are being adapted in other areas of the website. As an example, the Plan Finder tool helps members find a Medicare recommendation through a series of small steps. This approach as been adapted and implemented in other areas of the website to make for easier navigation.

Not only has the design approach raised their internal profile, but it also demonstrated the DX team's value to the organization. Instead of the business going straight to the IT team to solve a digital problem, the DX team is now brought to the table too.


Creativepool Annual Award


  • Patrick HarrellClient
  • Chuck AckerGroup Account Director
  • AppnovationGroup Account Director
  • Heidi AndersonManager, Technology
  • Myles O’learySenior Associate, Experience
  • Nathan GervaisManager, Technology
  • Saad ShahidCoordinator, Experience
  • * Victoria WilsonProject Manager
  • * Appnovation
  • * DerekContent Strategist
  • * Nikie ZuoCoordinator, Experience
  • * Anton MorrisonVice President, Experience Design
  • * Serge FominSenior Associate, Technology
Annual 2020 ShortlistPlan Finder: A New Way to Shop for MedicareDigital Annual 2020 ShortlistPlan Finder: A New Way to Shop for MedicareWeb Contributor:

Appnovation has been a Contributor since 25th November 2015.

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Plan Finder: A New Way to Shop for Medicare