The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) redesigned their Medicare Plan Finder website over a month ago. According to CMS, the new platform will provide information regarding Part D drug prices and Medicare Advantage health plans. Subscribers, therefore, will have to create an online account, complete with their personal details and passwords. The CMS says this newly issued criterion delivers a personalized experience. These changes come just a few weeks before the start of the Medicare Enrollment period for 2020 health coverage (15th October to 7th December).
Before, Medicare beneficiaries could compare premiums of different policies provided by insurance companies. However, millions of senior American citizens risk spending more money with the new system. Users may find an affordable Medicare plan, but the prices of drugs may be relatively higher, or an excellent plan with no details about the preferred pharmacy with low prices on drugs.
Many healthcare agencies and industry players have expressed their concerns regarding the redesigned Plan Finder website because it does not guarantee the best, cheapest plan. Further, the savings people made using the old plan finder will be hard to come by.
Speaking on the matter, CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, said, “The new Plan Finder website will offer useful and enhanced information about prices. Medicare is doing all it can to create a fixed price calculator before 15th October.”
The newly redesigned Medicare Plan Finder has elicited concerns from different quarters, including the Medicare Rights Center, as well as health industry players. Some challenges that users may face when using the platform include the following.
Alternative Medicare Plan finders are also available to use in the meantime.
1. The Records on the Old Website will not be available in the new Plan Finder
If you currently don’t have a Medicare account, the information from the old platform, Legacy Plan Finder, will not be found in the new system. That said, if you have a My Medicare.gov account, you’ll want to log in soon and print the list of prescription drugs you use. Once you have established an account, the site displays a claimed database. This list comprises drugs billed under Medicare, which may or may not include the ones you use.
2. Users will need to establish a new account in the new Plan Finder
To gain access to Part D drug prices and Medicare policies, beneficiaries will have to create new accounts, complete with their personal details – username and password.
Anyone comparing Medicare policies during enrollment must log into the new website with their username and password
While many beneficiaries can log into the Medicare Plan Finder every day using their personal information, many subscribers with health conditions living in nursing facilities. Others lack access devices such as computers and smartphones. Thus, they require help from capable parties such as their children, friends, pharmacists, volunteers, and State Health Insurance Program (SHIP). These people/organizations offering help face several challenges.
For instance, when enrolling an individual in absentia, the helper will ask for personal details from a beneficiary to register them in the new system. This info includes Medicare number, email, and date of birth. Such details are regarded as Protected Health Information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and may raise insecurities among beneficiaries. Albeit volunteers are not subjected to this law, they may not want to get into the details. But without doing so, many beneficiaries will not access their Medicare Advantage Plans.
It is still unclear why the CMS decided to redesign the old Legacy Plan Finder. Regardless, both existing beneficiaries and newcomers into the Medicare plan will find it challenging to review their plans. Maybe when they log in, they will find all the information they need to make informed decisions about their medical insurance.