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How does your health plan rate for 508 accessibility to member documents and information?

Gary Iverson, 508 Accessibility Senior Manager | October 20, 2017

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) uses their Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (CAHPS) to measure customer experience. CMS measures this using patient experience surveys that don’t ask or judge the quality of care, but focus instead on the experience, communication and understanding of the treatment and coordination of efforts.

508 Compliance

Try applying this same concept from a 508-accessibility perspective. Do your efforts focus on the value to the person with the disability? Or are you simply going through the motions to check the box?

It’s common to get so caught up in the cost of adding accessibility to your budget and “checking the box,” that you can lose sight of the goal and value of what you are doing. Member satisfaction doesn’t rely on the ruling -- your members want easy access and usability when it comes to the information you provide. At Merrill, we understand and can help you balance your business needs with user satisfaction.

How would you rate your members accessibility experience, accessibility communication, and usability of your communication documents?

We did a random survey of 43 health plans, analyzing over 230 documents for 508 compliance. We found lots of tagged files, but the content was not always sequenced for reading, had poor navigation, or the information was not linked.

  • 93% of the files we reviewed were not in full compliance.
  • 67% were in partial compliance. 
  • Tables were rarely presented in a way where the data was related and linked to the appropriate information.

If you want to improve your members’ experience and help them understand the documents you spend so much time preparing, take the time to add the accessibility that is valuable to them. That is what service is about - and that is what satisfaction of efforts means to your members.

What is the result of partial compliance? Is it fair if a member calls and must disclose a disability to the operator in order to understand their coverage details?

It’s not fair, especially if members are equipped with accessibility software to help them. Poorly constructed files can cause issues that inhibit how the member uses the data and can result in misinterpreting the meaning.  

You want loyalty from your customers and brand loyalty that will keep them coming back for more. Accurate 508 files are a key value for member support, independent reliance and equal access to document information.

Don’t let your 508-accessibility experience be like The Rolling Stones: “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction.” Take the lead and make 508 part of your healthcare strategy. Then, look to Merrill for collaboration and healthcare professional support. Email us at

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