CMS has been rolling out new online tools. While many of these are improvements that have been sorely needed, the transition can result in some confusion and glitches. Some of the biggest problems have involved the redesigned Medicare Plan Finder. As of October 1, the legacy version is no longer available, meaning everyone will need to use the new Plan Finder this annual election period.
The New Medicare Plan Finder
Although many people were grateful that the Plan Finder was finally getting an update, there were some issues with the new design. People quickly began complaining about the following issues:
- The sorting system did not allow users to sort drug plans by total annual out-of-pocket costs. This made it very difficult for users to figure out how much they would pay under different plans. Without knowing their total out-of-pocket costs, it was difficult to compare options and find the best value. This could result in people paying much more than they needed to.
- Drug lists from the old Plan Finder could not be moved to the new Plan Finder.
- Although users could use the new Plan Finder anonymously without creating an account or logging in, information could not be saved. This made it difficult for people who were using the Plan Finder to assist Medicare enrollees.
- Reports didn’t print well, and it was difficult to view some pages in certain browsers.
The biggest problem is probably the issue with the sorting feature, which makes it impossible for users to estimate total costs. According to ThinkAdvisor, this issue has led at least one carrier to advise agents against depending on the Plan Finder for information.
Last Minute Fixes
In response to user complaints, CMS has said that it is continuing to work on improvements.
In some cases, users will simply have to work around issues with the new system. For example, if you had a drug list in the old Plan Finder, you should print it out from MyMedicare.gov so you can enter it into the new Plan Finder.
However, other issues are being fixed. Importantly, the new Plan Finder will allow users to sort drug plans by total annual out-of-pocket costs, even though this feature was missing when the redesigned site was first rolled out.
According to a Q&A that CMS released on the new Medicare Plan Finder, CMS plans to have multiple fixes and improvements in place by the start of the annual election period. These changes include the following:
- Ability to sort by total cost
- Drug tier costs and footnotes for excluded drugs
- A direct link from MyMedicare.gov to the Plan Finder
- Preservation filters and SNP selections when users click the back button
- Improved print functions
On October 10, Kaiser Health News reported that the total cost calculator has been fixed, but other problems remained.
If you’d like more information, please watch this October 9 CMS video about the Medicare Plan Finder.