Health and financial security Medicare What's Buzzing

Don’t trust Medicare’s Open Enrollment information

Written by Diane Archer

The Center for Medicare Advocacy reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not fixed many problems with the Medicare Plan Finder web site, and you still cannot trust information on the site during this Open Enrollment period. Problems were originally reported in August 2019, which you can read about here. For free assistance, contact your State Health Insurance assistance Program (SHIP) (1-800-677-1116) or the Medicare Rights Center at 800-333-4114.

The Medicare site has three big problems. Much of the information on Medicare Advantage plans is misleading. It is still difficult to create a My Medicare Account. And, the Medicare Plan Finder still has inaccurate information about Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. You can’t find reliable information about drugs that are covered and their costs, drugs that are not on the formulary, dosage information, and copays for people who qualify for a Low-Income Subsidy.

As a result, people are choosing Medicare plans based on inaccurate information. It is not yet clear how or whether people will be notified of the misinformation and whether they will have the option to change plans. The problems with Part D information are so bad that some companies offering Medicare Part D drug coverage have told its brokers and agents not to use the Plan Finder since it is not calculating people’s out-of-pocket drug costs correctly.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Medicare Rights Center and Justice in Aging is requesting CMS to provide needed relief and protections to people who sign up for a Medicare plan based on misinformation so that they are not harmed by their decisions.

They are also concerned that CMS is steering people into private Medicare plans without properly advising them of their risks or the benefits of traditional Medicare. Moreover, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and others, the information comparing traditional Medicare with Medicare Advantage private plans is not complete. The biggest omission is in cost comparisons, which fails to reflect annual out-of-pocket costs that can be as high as $6,700 in Medicare Advantage plans.

One of the biggest issues with private Medicare plans is that they are not standardized, costs and coverage are always changing and, even when information is accurate, it is impossible to know what treatments your plan will be cover and what you will pay. Delays and denials are common and out-of-pocket costs can be sky high. Traditional Medicare covers virtually all of the cost of your care from almost any doctor or hospital anywhere in the country so long as you have supplemental coverage. For that reason, it provides people who end up needing costly care with greater peace of mind. Unfortunately, supplemental coverage can be costly, depending upon where you live and your income.

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