Why You Shouldn't Rely on Medicare.gov's Plan Finder Tool - Mature Health Center

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Why You Shouldn't Rely on Medicare.gov's Plan Finder Tool

Why You Shouldn't Rely on Medicare.gov's Plan Finder Tool

By Brian Hickey, Vice President of Insuractive®

A new report concludes that the federal government’s online Medicare Plan Finder tool fails to deliver on its promise to older Americans to help compare plans and choose the one that best meets their needs. 

Co-authored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Council for Affordable Health Coverage’s Clear Choices Campaign, the “Modernizing Medicare Plan Finder Report” says that the presentation of cost information on the Medicare.gov tool provides little help in understanding a beneficiary’s complete financial exposure of different coverage options and that the tool is in need of significant reform.

“It utilizes some functions that facilitate consumer evaluation of key health plan details, but overall, the website is full of hard-to-understand jargon and information that is displayed poorly and is confusing for consumers,” the report says.

The report reaffirmed what we at Mature Health Center® and Medicare MarketPlace® already knew. In fact, the tool’s inadequacies and the confusing nature of Medicare drove the very creation of our business. Our mission is to help customers understand their health insurance options and guide them through the shopping and buying process.

While the report makes specific reform recommendations to policymakers to improve the Medicare online shopping and enrollment experience, it’s important for consumers to know they already can get the information and help they need to make informed decisions about their Medicare plans.    

The Licensed Insurance Agents at Medicare MarketPlace are educated in all plans and the technology — both the Medicare.gov website and our tools — that compare plans, and we assist in making the right choice for the consumer. Let’s look at some of the report’s key findings and how Medicare MarketPlace compares.

Key Findings of the Report

  • Out-of-pocket cost information is difficult to understand.

The report says that the vast majority of beneficiaries interviewed could not understand the estimated annual health costs displayed on the Medicare Plan Finder, defaulting instead to factors in which they had more confidence and understanding, such as premiums.

Medicare MarketPlace explains to customers that comparing only premiums can be a costly error. Other factors may come in to play to push total out-of-pocket expenses higher, even if the premium is the cheapest. This is one of the core messages we share when reviewing consumers’ plan options and in our Mature Health Center content

  • Human Support is Not Available

The Medicare Plan Finder does not have a chat feature or even contact information for consumers if they need additional assistance. Medicare MarketPlace’s helpful and knowledgeable Licensed Insurance Agents are our signature services. Consumers need to be able to ask questions so that they understand what they are purchasing, and our agents aim to make the process as stress-free as possible so that consumers walk away confident in their decision. We even have on-staff pharmacists to help answer your prescription drug coverage options.

  • Plan Comparisons Do Not Permit Inclusion of Medigap Policies

The Medicare Plan Finder does not provide the “apples to apples” comparison that is important for anyone to make informed coverage decisions. For example, it cannot compare a Medicare Supplement plan to a Medicare Advantage plan — one of the most common comparisons that beneficiaries should be able to examine. Without that functionality, the Medicare Plan Finder leaves beneficiaries without a full understanding all of their health insurance options and unable to compare them to each other.

Medicare MarketPlace’s Licensed Insurance Agents are well-versed in both Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage, and also Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plans. They are able to do “apples to apples” comparisons and explain the nuances and benefits of each plan.

  • Provider and Pharmacy Directories Are Difficult to Navigate

According to the report, beneficiaries using the Medicare Plan Finder struggled to understand what a preferred pharmacy is, what it means to them and how it could assist with cost reduction. Medicare MarketPlace’s Licensed Insurance Agents can explain all this and also direct them to the pharmacies in their area that are preferred by carrier plans.

Remember, you have more options than the federal government’s website. If you need help enrolling in Medicare or reviewing your Medicare plans, call Medicare MarketPlace to speak to a Licensed Insurance Agent at 1-800-639-0781.