May 15, 2000
Improved website design for Medicare information
Medicare has added new and expanded information about Medicare benefits, nursing home staffing levels, health plan options, and other topics to its website, www.medicare.gov, according to Nancy-Ann DeParle, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration.
The website now includes more features and information tailored to meet the needs of the growing number of older online users, as well as family members and others who help them make their health care decisions, including:
The latest Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey showed that Internet access among people with Medicare who are 65 and older has skyrocketed from 6.8 percent in 1997 to 21.3 percent in 1999. In addition, industry figures on web-use indicate that people over the age of 50 represent the largest and fastest-growing population on the Internet. They are increasingly using computers and the Internet to search for information on vital issues like healthcare.
- A new site design that makes it easier to find, read, and print online information about Medicare, including information on health plan options;
- New information about the number of plan members who have disenrolled from their Medicare+Choice plans. This information is compiled by HCFA and will be updated annually;
- New staffing information for nursing homes across the country, which includes the number of registered nurses, licensed practical or vocational nurses, and certified nursing assistants in each nursing home; and
- An improved screen reader that allows people with visual disabilities to access the Internet. The tool allows users who have screen reader capabilities to "hear" the words on the screen.
The Medicare website, which has already won awards for comprehensive content, is one of the websites providing information of interest to older adults. The site averages 7 million hits and 1.3 million page views per month.
HCFA's website contains useful information for people with Medicare and anyone involved in helping them with their health care decisions. It is uniquely designed to provide customized comparative information about Medicare+Choice plans (Medicare Health Plan Compare), nursing homes (Nursing Home Compare), Supplemental Insurance policies for people with Medicare (Medigap Compare), local events where Medicare is the topic (Local Medicare Events), and resources for additional information (Helpful contacts).
HCFA originally launched www.medicare.gov in 1998. It is one part of the comprehensive National Medicare Education Program that also includes the Medicare and You handbook; 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), HCFA's toll-free telephone line; and partnerships with local and national organizations across the United States.