This article analyzes the impact of the design of the Medicare handbook and website on individuals' ability to make effective decisions about prescription drug coverage. The article summarizes Medicare Part D, discusses the characteristics of potential enrollees, and provides an overview of document-based decision making. It uses a rhetorical framework to evaluate the Medicare documents as decision-making tools, arguing that design flaws hinder users' understanding, discourage them from taking appropriate action, and negatively shape perceptions of ethos. The article concludes by discussing implications for functional documents more generally, underscoring the importance of a design cycle that is both user-centered and performance- centered.
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