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Medicare Web Site Confounds Many Seniors
Date:8/19/2008

Confusing information, complex language makes site hard to use, researchers say

TUESDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A majority of seniors who visit the Medicare Web site find getting the information they need a frustrating experience, University of Miami researchers report.

Whether trying to determine their eligibility for home health care or which Medicare drug plan is best for them, most seniors found Medicare's Web site difficult to use. Yet, many seniors say, the Internet could be a valuable source of medical information.

"Medicare Web site is somewhat difficult for people to use," said lead researcher Sara J. Czaja, co-director of the Center on Aging at the university's Miller School of Medicine. "They find it confusing and overly complex."

Participants in the study found the Medicare site difficult to navigate from page to page, and hard to get the information they needed, Czaja said. Moreover, some of the information was confusing, and some of the language was too complex, she added.

"When E-health tools are designed, designers really have to think about a broad and inclusive group of users and what their needs and abilities are," Czaja said.

Designers may be too concerned with getting all the content on the site at the expense of making it user-friendly, Czaja said.

The report was published in a research letter in the Aug. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, Czaja's team had 112 people aged 50 and older, who were all computer-literate, attempt to navigate the Medicare Web site.

The participants were asked to use the Web site to determine their eligibility for home health care services, select a home health care agency, make a decision about enrolling in the Medicare part D prescription drug program, and select a drug plan.

The researchers found 68.8 percent of the participants weren't able to get sp
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