Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Mona Lisa of the Marketplace is gone!

After more than one friend, when running into me, was found to greet me with “ So Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?” - not too subtly bringing up my critique of things Open Enrollment, I’ve decided to start each of these open enrollment posts with the following caveat:

I, Christina Zarcadoolas, small town linguist with time on my hands, fully support the ACA and want as many people as possible to find coverage through Open Enrollment.  I am analyzing the messaging and communication through a health literacy and language lens. Sort of the only toolkit I own.  I do this to learn more from those who join the conversation, and to perchance have a small part in improving how we communicate vital issues about health and coverage to everyone.

The smiling face on the home page of is gone. 

Sad, but true, the inviting, smiling face of the Marketplace is gone.

In its place, (no not the Onion 10/22/13’s rendition) ….

She is gone, only to be replaced by 4 icons – a phone, computer, page and people.
(Some of which, by the way, don’t “click” – don’t take you to a phone number, or computer page, or a place to write, or to speak to someone )

So, what do they mean?  They must mean something. Right?


  1. The choice to replace the pleasant smiley female face with muddled text, some of it sideways is baffling. The black background leaves much to be desired as well.

    Heres some more funny Onion satire...,34294/

  2. I have not had the chance to check out the earlier home page but trying to navigate the new homepage is no easy task. A person looking to apply would need a considerable amount of time navigating this site. I tried and after five clicks leading me nowhere, gave up.

    I found this when I was searching up the site:

    It appears that the site did not have enough time to be tested for how effective it would be for consumers to use. Kathleen Sebelius, the HHS Secretary even issued an apology. What I found interesting was that her prepared statement blamed the private contractors who created the site. However, she offered an apology on her part claiming she should be held accountable. I am not sure how fast the government plans to fix this or how they plan to make it more user-friendly, but as of now, it seems that all this just leads to more confusion and more frustration on the part of consumers who want to get insurance but find this site a hassle.

  3. I think it was a bad idea for the government to have replaced the former page with a friendly face that everyone could relate to a page that was poorly designed in my opinion. To be Specific, I think that the new page is very dark and gloomy. Also I find that the new page has too much going on that could be very confusing for some who is not that computer literate. For example, it has several different icons showing four ways how someone could begin the process of applying for health insurance. Then it tells you that you can call but apply online as well. Also, it gives you four more different options how you can go about applying for insurance. It is even more confusing! However, the new page does show someone who is computer literate their options that are more in your face once you are directed onto the site. The government has dropped the ball in helping Americans have a easier time accessing health insurance. It is smooth sailing up into the point where you enter your personal information. Then you are directed to another page. I think once the first part is done it should bring you straight to the health insurance plans along with whatever option that is best for the consumer.
    Kathleen Sebelius has given a public apology. What good has that done for the million of Americans who are still having some many issues with applying for health insurance. It is a step in the right direction, but it has been at what cost to the consumer who is left more confused and frustrated than when they first begin.

  4. I'm quite surprised at how much Sebelius said she didn't know, wasn't aware of. Wonder if she's even seen the new home page? But then again, that might not make any difference.

  5. That apology does nothing for the general public who needs a clear and direct website. The page is hard to navigate through and is not inviting at all, instead its dark and lacks a friendly face from before. The "spokeswoman" for the website has been replaced by icons that give you the run around. There needs to be more done to the homepage. If they could have the icons light up or enlarge when you hover them that would be helpful. In addition, looking at California's page, I like the small information input they make you put in order to show you what you might qualify for. You don't have to create an account just yet to see possible plans. Their page is light and creative (seriously? Covered California, how cute is that!?) and easy to navigate through. should take note.

  6. Even with an apology from Sebelius and the President, the damage has already been done. To remedy that damage however is to fix the website. What benefits do millions of consumers who desperately want to purchase health insurance get from changing the face of the website if it is still not functioning? Furthermore, the website has many glitches and is not user-friendly; too much run round. Purchasing health insurance should not be so much of a hassle and simply changing the face of the website is not making the situation better.

  7. So after the checking a week later, this message appears at the top:

    "The Health Insurance Marketplace online application isn't available from approximately 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. EST daily while we make improvements. Additional down times may be possible as we work to make things better. The rest of the site and the Marketplace call center remain available during these hours."

    Being an optimist - I'd like to think that this means the web creators and health promoters recognize the problems and are attempting to make things smoother during the less busy internet hours. I doubt they are going to change the main page any further, but at least we have hope that some of the confusing links and redirecting nonsense will be eliminated!

  8. I think that waiting around for the site to be updated and user friendly will result in many people becoming discouraged to attain health insurance. The whole point of the site was to enable those who don't have insurance to receive insurance, but now has become a joke. The site has been open for over a month and it has yet to provide the proper insurance to people who have been waiting for something like this for years. At this point I don't think the aesthetically pleasing homepage will do much for the millions of Americans who need insurance now.It is obvious that people want insurance so the only option is to fix the glitches with the online application and create a simpler site to navigate through.

  9. It is really inspirational for us and appreciable initiative.