FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nathan Heggem
Senior Communications and
July 25, 2011
Medicare Rights Center Releases Report on Medicare Plan Finder
-- Report Highlights the Difficulties of Choosing a Prescription Drug Plan,
Calls for Reform of the Part D Marketplace --
New York, NY –The Medicare Rights Center released a report today on the difficulties Medicare beneficiaries face when choosing a Part D prescription drug plan (PDP). The report presents data from beneficiaries who were guided through the plan selection process by Medicare Rights counselors using Plan Finder, an online tool created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The report, Planning Ahead: Recommendations for Plan Finder, Inspired by Beneficiaries, explores the obstacles that people with Medicare encounter when choosing a Part D plan. While the report praises recent CMS efforts to improve Plan Finder, it highlights the problems consumers face when they must choose among a multitude of plans that have different benefit structures, pharmacy networks, formularies and rules for accessing benefits. The report concludes that many people with Medicare and their caregivers often find it difficult to decipher or navigate these choices. For example, only 43 percent of survey respondents chose to enroll in PDPs recommended by Plan Finder, while 57 percent chose not to. Some respondents explained that they chose to stay with their current plans out of convenience, even when their existing plan was more expensive or restrictive.
The report makes four primary recommendations:
- Beneficiaries and their advocates should be able to identify the most comprehensive and affordable plan upon their initial Plan Finder search.
- Because beneficiaries often find the data presented difficult to decipher, it may be beneficial to reorganize the data and create a decision tree to help guide them through the plan selection process.
- As complementary resources, “Medicare & You” and Plan Finder must provide consistent information.
- CMS should build on the current initiative to consolidate plans that lack meaningful differences. Beneficiaries should have access to a manageable number of meaningfully distinct plan choices.
“This report reinforces what we hear time and again on our helpline,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “The Part D plan selection process is enough to make many beneficiaries and their loved ones throw up their arms in surrender. People simply want to be able to find and enroll in the drug plan that is right for them, without getting stuck in a morass of indistinguishable plan options.”
Most people who already have Medicare Part D can change their plan only during the Fall Open Enrollment Period, which in 2011 runs from October 15 to December 7.
The report is available at: http://www.medicarerights.org/pdf/Planning-Ahead-Recommendations-for-Plan-Finder.pdf.
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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.
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