For the first time in a decade, the Medicare Plan Finder is getting an upgrade. The Medicare Plan Finder is the most used tool on medicare.gov. The tool allows users to shop and compare Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. Eventually, the modernized and redesigned Medicare Plan Finder will help those with Medicare Coverage, along with their caregivers, learn about the different options and select coverage that best meets their health needs. The new Plan Finder will walk users through the Medicare Advantage and Part D enrollment process from start to finish and allow them to view and compare many of the supplemental benefits offered. But, like many advancements, there will be some bumps along the way.
Exclusive Source of Information
Beginning with the 2020 Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans, the new Medicare Plan Finder will be the exclusive source of information. In a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) promotional video, they informed beneficiaries that they could create an “online account for a personalized experience.” Except that’s where the major bump in the road occurs.
It’s the people approaching age 65, or getting ready to retire, who will face some of the biggest Medicare headaches. See, you can’t establish a My Medicare.gov account until you are actually on Medicare. And without an account, the new Plan Finder won’t save any of your information. That means that each time you want to log in and do some research on which plan is best for you, you will have to re-enter all of your information. For those on multiple medications, that means re-entering the information for each medication and the information for your pharmacy every time you log in.
It’s also possible that additional data will be unavailable, including provider network data for Medicare Advantage plans. Without being able to see the data for these plans, the ability to effectively compare plan options is severely hindered.
This isn’t the only challenge facing beneficiaries who try to use the new Plan Finder. The new Plan Finder removed a popular tool, the total-cost calculator. This tool allowed individuals or their advisers to enter the names and dosages of the medications they take and quickly calculate which of the multiple Part D policies available in their region and pharmacy carries the lowest annual out-of-pocket costs. Without this tool, users are forced to tally separately the costs of the premiums, deductibles, and co-pays under different plans—but not the total cost of each one.
Looking to compare plan options? Previously, referral and authorization requirements were clearly identified, making coverage rules easily visible. The new Plan Finder only allows you to view the details about health benefits for one plan at a time. The plan comparison page does not list all benefits. You will need to click on “Limits apply” next to a specific service or benefit for more information. For someone studying their options, that could be dozens of extra clicks.
With 10,000 people turning 65 every day, and thousands more retiring, there will be lots of people struggling with finding and inputting information as they try to find the right Medicare plan.
The Right Insurance Professional Can Help
The new Medicare Plan Finder has made finding the best drug coverage more difficult than before by eliminating important features like preferred pharmacies, drug benefit summary, and total drug costs for the year. Instead beneficiaries are being asked to do more work to find the best coverage for them.
Beneficiaries worried about getting the best drug coverage for them should look to the right insurance professional for help. A trusted insurance professional can help a beneficiary navigate the new Plan Finder and make sure they are getting all the right accurate information in order for them to make the best decision.
For everyone on Medicare, health, and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year. Medicare beneficiaries should look at their coverage choices and decide on the options that best fit their health needs. At Coverage Made, we know that Medicare can be confusing, and we are here with products and advice to help.