As Medicare Open Enrollment Nears, Popular Price Comparison Tool Is Missing
Hey, somarco or any other expert in these Medicare plans - what can people do if they don't get this fixed pronto? Look up the plans they are interested in on the insurers website??
GOOD GRIEF, GOVERNMENT - Medicare beneficiaries might have to change their strategy this year for picking their best option for a Medicare Advantage Plan and/or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan during open enrollment.
Millions of older adults can start signing up next week for private policies offering Medicare drug and medical coverage for 2020. But many risk wasting money and even jeopardizing their health care due to changes in Medicare’s plan finder, its most popular website.
For more than a decade, beneficiaries used the plan finder to compare dozens of Medicare policies offered by competing insurance companies and get a list of their options. Yet after a website redesign six weeks ago, the search results are missing crucial details: How much will you pay out-of-pocket? And which plan offers the best value?
That’s because the plan finder can no longer add up and sort through the prescription costs plus monthly premiums and any deductibles for all those plans. A mere human can try, but it is a cumbersome process fraught with pitfalls. One plan might have the lowest premium but not the lowest drug prices. Another could exclude a plan’s preferred pharmacy that offers lower prescription prices.
. . . .Medicare officials say the total cost calculator will be fixed in time for the annual enrollment season, which starts nationwide Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. But they have yet to address multiple other issues raised by the Medicare Rights Center and industry groups.
“The new tool will provide more enhanced price and quality information” to assure informed health care decisions, Seema Verma, administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said when she unveiled the redesign in August.
During open enrollment, beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Advantage plans, the alternative to traditional Medicare that offer drug coverage and often more benefits than the government program does. About a third of the 64 million people in Medicare choose this option. Next year, the average Medicare Advantage monthly premium is expected to drop 14% compared with 2019 to an estimated $23, according to CMS.
This is also the only time most people in traditional Medicare can sign up for a drug plan, also known as Part D, to help cover their prescription costs. It’s a good idea to review plans every year since costs and covered drugs can change from year to year. Estimated average monthly premiums for these policies will be $30 next year, about 8% less than in 2019, CMS has reported.
Well, let's hope they get this fixed before next week - but if you have problems . . . . . . ???????
At least there is an almost two-month window of opportunity to make your choice -10/15/2019 - 12/07/2019.
@GailL1 I posted about this problem maybe a month ago. Got a ho-hum reception. I guess some folks don't comparison shop drug plans every year.
The NEW Plan Finder is a disaster. CMS has egg on their face. During the roll out in August they got their head handed to them by folks who actually KNEW how to use the PF.
They have scrambled to fix the problems by 10/15. Recent tests reveals the site is improved but far from accurate.
The private market has reacted and a few large Medicare agencies purchased a license for the old software . . . which still works just fine. One of the challenges is the agencies rely on a data disk from CMS. The one released over the weekend is corrupt. CMS promised to have a new disk by next week.
I have contracted with an agency that does back office work and they will be handling all my PDP clients. So far their support is taking a load off of me and seems to be flawless.
The only other option is to go to each carrier site and run reports, then set up a spread sheet to compare.
Problem there is, most consumers and quite a few agents have no idea how Part D works.
SHIP counselors and the folks @ 800 MEDICARE aren't any better.
The other thing to watch out for is being switched from a stand alone PDP to an MAPD plan. This happens when you are dealing with 800 MEDICARE and quite often with carriers that write both PDP and MAPD.
This is not new but the carriers and medicare.gov are much more aggressive now than in the past.