One of the biggest changes this Annual Enrollment Period is the new Medicare.gov Plan Finder. For the first time in a decade, it has been “modernized and redesigned,” according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The Plan Finder, which is available at www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan, is used by millions of consumers every year to compare Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plans side-by-side. The site can be accessed by individuals or insurance agents to provide a compliant, easy-to-understand overview of the total costs a member would pay through the calendar year. Unfortunately, to many, the recent revamps “to meet the needs of a growing number of tech-savvy beneficiaries” have caused a bit of a headache.
According to CMS, the new Plan Finder makes it easier to:
- Compare pricing among Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Part D and supplemental plans.
- Compare coverage options on smartphones and tablets.
- Build a personal drug list and find Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that works best for them.
However, where CMS thought they were making improvements, they were throwing people a learning curve and additional work. Moreover, consumers are unaware that they have to do some addition to get actual out of pocket costs for the year for their plans. Let’s take a look at some changes and their effects:
- First, unless a member has or creates an account, you can no longer use the saved drug lists IDs from previous years. This means the member or agent must re-enter all the prescriptions for the comparison this year and each year thereafter unless an account is created.
- In addition, not all the prescriptions appear in the drop down as you are typing them, and you must manually search the website’s drug list. This is cumbersome and time consuming.
- Third, the search results are missing important details and do not provide concise yearly totals.
- The default results are sorted by monthly premiums, which is important, but not as much as the total annual cost of monthly premiums and any deductibles or copays the member is expected to pay.
- Sorting by total premium + drug costs is now an option, which was an improvement made in mid-October, but when comparing the plans side-by-side, it ONLY shows the drug costs for the year. This can be misleading to consumers when they see $50.00 for the year on prescriptions, but that may be on a $74.00 per month premium plan versus $64.00 for the year on prescriptions on a $32.00 per month premium plan.
At the end of the day, having a licensed and certified agent is a great source of help navigating the site and making sure you are on the best plan! At Hovis & Associates, our agents offer a free, unbiased insurance comparison to make sure our clients are on the best plan for them. Annual enrollment ends December 7th, so call today to schedule and appointment!