A Women’s Step-by-Step Guide to Using Health Insurance

Raising Women’s Voices (RWV) launched a national campaign to help newly-insured women use their health coverage to get the care they need, while avoiding unexpected costs. The Centerpiece of this campaign is a new resource, “My Health, My Voice: A Women’s Step-by-Step Guide to Using Health Insurance.”

The Problem:

More than 4.3 million women gained health insurance coverage during the first round of open enrollment that ended back in April 2015. However, many of those newly-insured women are now confronting a new challenge — understanding how to effectively use their new coverage.


Objectives for our literacy project: “Teach 3 main things: How to get care using your insurance. Why to start using preventive services. How to avoid unexpected costs. Make it simple! Use graphics to increase understanding. Increase women’s confidence levels. Something women will take home and use as a resource. Something beautiful!”

The Team


User Research

When I got selected to work on this project I was studying in the Design and Tehcnology program of the Parsons school of design and working with technology was my daily goal, but when I started analyzing the audience of this product I realized that even though it might have looked old fashioned, putting technology on the side was the right thing to do. A considerable portion of the audience could not afford a phone bill, nor a computer.

User Persona

The Idea

One day, wile asking my mom on the phone if I had a certain disease when I was a kid, she said “wait let me go take THE BOOK and check if your name is next to that disease”.

In that exact moment I realized that the answer was in my mom’s behavior. She used an old diseases book to keep track of me and my brother’s health-related issues, even if she uses technology for everything, she relies on “the book” for this kind of things. And if you think about it, the technology changes fast, phones get often lost and all the data goes with it. but a book most likely will stay in a room, on the same shelf, forever. Moreover, a book is something that can be lent to somebody or pass on to sons and daughters.

This is why I decided that a tangible guide should have been the shape of this product, this is why we started working on a guide to address the specific problems newly-insured women are having using their health insurance, as identified by Raising Women’s Voices coordinators across the country, such as:

  • How do you find a Primary Care Provider (PCP) who is in your health plan’s provider network?
  • How can you start using your health coverage, even when you have a big deductible?
  • What do all those terms like premium, deductible, co-pay and co-insurance mean?
  • What are the women’s preventive services you can get for free, with no additional co-pays?

System Design

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1. A step-by-step guide to getting started using health insurance. This guide will explain what information is on an insurance ID card, including the phone number for member services and the co-pay amounts for office and ER visits and prescription drugs. It will also help women learn how to find a doctor who is in their health plan network and make an appointment for a primary care visit to obtain key preventive health screening and services.


2. A personal health journal/workbook that will help women explore their vision of “a better, healthier me” and identify the help they need to work toward their vision of wellness. The goal is to empower women to believe their health matters and to gain confidence in navigating the health system. There will be places for women to paste in their own photos, stickers or decorations and write in their thoughts.

3. A folder to store important health insurance and medical records for safekeeping and easy access when needed. 


The Guide Covers: 5 steps to getting the care you need List of free women’s preventive services 4 types of costs you may have to pay: Premium Deductible Co-pay Co-insurance

The color palette

One of the goals of this product is to be inclusive. I focused on details that could work for that scope such as a diverse iconography and a non stereotyped color palette: Turquoise instead of pink.

“Women appreciated the colors, the graphics, the multi-cultural illustrations. They were glad they got to take them home!”

“The tonality was appreciated.”


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Step 1: Learn what’s on your insurance card Your member ID # The member services telephone number to call with questions. The co-pays for office visits, the emergency room, prescription drugs

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Step 2. Choose a primary care provider who takes your insurance.

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Step 3. Make an appointment to see your new primary care provider right away.

Step 4. Be prepared for your first visit to your new primary care provider.

Step 5. Visit your primary care provider and take follow up action.

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Interaction Design

Sample dialogues are small pages that appear next to a concept. In this way the fruition of the information is multilayered and more dynamic. Some people needs examples, some people don’t. By having all the examples in small pages allow the user to skip examples or focus on them. This guide is designed to maximize the user experience and avoid overwhelming the reader. They turned to be the most loved part of the guide.

The role of the examples

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“Examples are an effective teaching tool. Serve as a reference point for beginning a conversation. Give women with limited English proficiency the right words to use”



The importance of using scenarios

The Guide contains Scenarios to help women understand what to do in certain (typical) situations.

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We field tested our materials

Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinators in 14 states (CA, CO, GA, IL, LA, ME, MD, MI, NY, OR, PA, TX, WI, WV) tested the materials with 121 women. Pre-workshop survey assesses baseline of knowledge. Post-workshop survey assesses whether women: Understand key concepts better? Know how to refer to the guide at home for help? Feel more confident about using their health insurance to improve their health, manage health conditions?

Who were the women in our field testing?

Some characteristics: Ages 19-64, average age of 36 Majority women of color 47% privately insured (the rest, Medicaid or don’t know) One quarter do not primarily speak English Low-income households: 31% with household incomes under $15k 40% between $15k and $40k


Workshop testing of the guide at CUNY School of Public Health in August 2015

The Guide: “comprehensive
but not intimidating”

The design is a hit.”

“Women appreciated the colors, the graphics, the multi-cultural illustrations. They were glad they got to take them home!”

“The tonality was appreciated.”

“The examples on the small pages work well.”

Most participants gained confidence in their ability to understand and use their health insurance.

I feel confident/very confident I know:

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For more, go to : http://www.myhealthmyvoice.com/