CMS Showing Progress Improving the Customer Experience in the Area of Medicare Support

Published: October 10, 2019

CMSDigital Government

CMS is making progress improving the Medicare customer experience, but could improve website interaction and provide more information in plain language for customers, a recent report found.

In a first of its kind report, Accenture Federal Services and the Partnership for Public Service (PPS) studied customers’ experiences with eight federal programs that represent the highest volume of direct contact with the public. The two organizations reviewed customer experience data and agency feedback to create a series of eight customer experience profiles that offer details on how the public experiences these services. Medicare Customer Support Services at CMS was one of the eight programs profiled in the report.

Through Medicare, CMS is the largest health insurance provider in the U.S. with more than 60 million customers. Beneficiaries can receive information and service via Medicare’s website, mobile applications, or phone using the Medicare contact center (1-800-MEDICARE). In FY 2018, the contact center handled 23.8 million calls with a 3.5 minute average wait time, and received 412.8 million visits. CMS also maintains a Twitter and Facebook presence for Medicare with 32,000 and 411,000 followers respectively.

Accenture and PPS found the following customer experience highlights:

  • Call center representatives received high marks for their courtesy and knowledge about the services covered under different Medicare plans. Nearly 90% of callers rated their overall experience with Medicare customer service as “very good” or “excellent.”
  • People appreciate the “Medicare and You” handbook which explains how to apply for and renew Medicare coverage, and also what tests and services are covered under the program.

The report evaluated each federal program according to “indicators” that customer experience is a high priority for the program.

CMS – Medicare Customer Support Services:



Agency goals include customer experience


Agency has a key performance measure based on customer experience


Agency has a senior executive for customer experience


Agency has a process for standardizing information across channels


Agency shares customer feedback with the public


Customers can complete key services online


Customers can easily find information to call appropriate representatives


Customers can schedule in-person appointments


Customers can obtain status updates


Agency collects feedback on specific interactions


Agency collects feedback on customer journeys


Agency collects feedback on the overall service


Agency collects feedback through qualitative research



The analysis also found the following opportunities to improve the customer experience:

  • Customers find it difficult to understand the various Medicare plan options and determine the best one for them.
  • People struggle to understand technical health insurance language about their Medicare coverage.
  • There are areas for improvement in the Medicare online experience.

The Medicare program received a “C” grade for its website experience which evaluated how easy the site is to navigate and understand.   The analysis found information was difficult to find, understand and act on. Several pages related to getting drug coverage were text-heavy, used a lot of acronyms and, in some places were “overwhelmingly busy.” The information was somewhat organized and followed several plain-language principles but could be more user-friendly.

CMS is working to create a more consistent experience across its online site and mobile applications through the eMedicare initiative. As part of this work, CMS rolled out the “What’s Covered” mobile application, which gives customers information about what tests, items or services are covered under Medicare. The agency also launched a new “lookup tool” for checking the price of medical procedures to help patients compare payments and copayments for procedures at different hospitals enrolled in Medicare.