The federal government designed a tool to help seniors navigate through all their possible Medicare choices. This was created for them to be able to choose their best option. There have been some bugs that needed to be fixed, so the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS, updated the Medicare Plan Finder tool in August. However, the tool is still currently giving seniors incorrect price estimates, and wrong coverage information.
The Medicare Finder Tool
The Medicare Plan Finder Tool is a tool on the Medicare.gov site that helps consumers navigate through Medicare plans and prices before signing up. The tool was developed in 2005, but in August of 2019, it was revamped and redesigned.
The Issue With The Tool
Even with the revamp, Medicare beneficiaries have been just as confused as ever. The tool has been showing inaccurate premium estimates. Incorrect prescription drug costs, and inaccurate coverage costs. If a beneficiary chooses the wrong coverage due to the inaccurate information provided, it can cost them a lot of money for the whole year they are stuck with the plan until the next open enrollment.
Per ProPublica, a Medicare consultant in Wisconsin used the tool to research prescription drug plans for a client, and was shocked by the results. The consultant stated that when she searched for them, the comparison page showed all but one of her client’s medications would be covered. So the consultant dug deeper by clicking on “plan details” to find out which medication was left out. She then saw that the plan finder said all of the medications were covered.
She started checking the plans’ websites, and came across two versions of the same high blood pressure medication. One was covered, while the other was not. The difference in price was $2,700 a month.
In Nebraska, an insurance administrator flagged about 100 errors since she began working with the tool in October.
“Millions of people are going to be absolutely affected,” said Ann Kayrish, senior program manager for Medicare at the National Council on Aging. “And you hate to think about millions of people having the wrong plan. That’s kind of crazy.”
“It’s not like there’s one consistent problem that you can fix and then be addressed,” said David Lipschutz, associate director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “It’s really like a game of whack-a-mole.”
What You Can Do
CMS has spent $11 million dollars in order to revamp the tool. But the misinformation it gives is alarming, especially when seniors are struggling as it is to pay for Medicare costs and prescription drugs. Using the tool and enrolling into a plan that ends up costing a medicare beneficiary too much, they will struggle, and possibly end up with major financial issues.
The CMS is currently working on fixing the issues. In the meantime, if you are seeking Medicare advice, it would be best to contact a Medicare agent. A Medicare agent who is familiar with plans and their coverage can help guide you in a better, more accurate direction. EZ.Insure offers highly trained agents in your region that can offer you accurate quotes on plans available. If you would like to speak to an agent, call 888-753-7207 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you would like an instant quote, enter your zip code in the bar above.