868彩票地址Saturday is the deadline for most people with Medicare coverage to sign up for private drug and medical plans for next year. But members of Congress, health care advocates and insurance agents worry that enrollment decisions based on bad information from the government’s revamped, error-prone Plan Finder website will bring unwelcome surprises.
Beneficiaries could be stuck in plans that cost too much and don’t meet their medical needs — with no way out until 2021.
868彩票地址On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services told Kaiser Health News that beneficiaries would be able to change plans next year because of Plan Finder misinformation, although officials provided few details.
868彩票地址And the website had no information about that option. Representatives reached at Medicare’s call center Thursday, who were busy helping with last-minute enrollments, were unaware of it. On Friday, CMS said those representatives will be retrained and the website will be updated after the current enrollment season wraps up.
868彩票地址The overhauled debuted at the end of August, and 2020 plan information was added in October. Over the past three months, Plan Finder problems reported to CMS by the , the National Association of Health Underwriters, and state and national consumer advocates included inaccurate details about prices, covered drugs and dosages, and difficulty sorting and saving search results, among other things.published on a Medicare website last week, officials said they’re “not done improving the Plan Finder.” And they promised “in the coming months we’ll be scoping out additional improvements that we can implement based on lessons we learn this year.”
868彩票地址Although CMS has earned praise for responding to errors identified by Plan Finder users, some people may have signed up for plans before the mistakes were caught ― mistakes they may not notice until their coverage kicks in next year.
868彩票地址“Seniors should be able to choose the plans that work best for them,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. “Issues with Medicare’s new Plan Finder website, however, have reportedly created confusion among beneficiaries as well as those assisting them.” She added that she was concerned “this problem even occurred.”
Medicare’s response, Collins said, “must be vigorous with extensive outreach to inform seniors of special enrollment periods.”
Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, the senior Democrat on that committee, also said Medicare needs to reach out so people know they can request a “special enrollment period” if they discover next year they made a wrong choice due to inaccurate Plan Finder information.
“People with Medicare must be aware that this reprieve exists and should not have to jump through hoops to qualify,” he said. The administration should “use all means necessary” to let beneficiaries know about their options for a special enrollment period.
Fifteen Senate Democrats, led by Casey, ? Thursday to Medicare Administrator Seema Verma asking the agency to “widely publicize the existing SEP for people who were misled by information” in the Medicare Plan Finder and to make switching plans easy.
868彩票地址In its statement to KHN Wednesday, CMS said it provides special enrollment periods for . It added that beneficiaries can get a special enrollment period related to Plan Finder issues anytime next year.
868彩票地址They can “call 1-800-MEDICARE and explain to our call center representatives that they have an issue with their plan choice. It is not CMS’s expectation that beneficiaries will have documentation or screenshots,” the statement said. Beneficiaries will be able to start the process of changing plans during that call, CMS said.
CMS officials refused to be identified but would not give a reason.
Applying for a special enrollment period could be tricky. In the Nov. 27 blog post, Medicare officials said the information on the Plan Finder is “the most current and accurate information on premiums, deductibles and cost sharing that Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans provide.” They noted that the “information changes frequently because plans regularly update drug formularies and renegotiate drug prices.”
America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade group representing health insurers, “is not aware of any systematic problems with the Plan Finder, which is operated by CMS,” said spokeswoman Cathryn Donaldson.
868彩票地址People who enroll in a private Medicare Advantage policy, an alternative to traditional government-run Medicare that covers both drugs and medical care, already have an alternative. They have until March 31 to change plans or enroll in traditional Medicare.
868彩票地址Collins and Casey are not the only members of Congress raising the issue. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wants CMS to provide a special enrollment period in these cases and clearly communicate the details, a spokesman said.
868彩票地址Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, believes Saturday’s deadline should be extended, a committee aide said. The committee has heard about the Plan Finder’s problems from numerous seniors’ advocates and counselors from state health insurance assistance programs, as well as the insurance companies that sell coverage.
868彩票地址Since enrollment for 2020 coverage began Oct. 1, the National Association of Health Underwriters, which represents 100,000 insurance agents, has sent CMS officials 54 Plan Finder problems and is still receiving reports from agents, said John Greene, the vice president for congressional affairs.
The Medicare counselors at Nebraska’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program? flagged more than 100 issues as of mid-November, said Alicia Jones, the program’s administrator.
868彩票地址After receiving complaints about the Plan Finder, Delaware’s insurance commissioner, Trinidad Navarro, last week.
Tatiana Fassieux, education and training specialist at California Health Advocates, said her organization wants CMS to offer a blanket, nationwide special enrollment period instead of ?granting it case by case. The group helps train Medicare counselors for California’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program, known as HICAP.
Leslie Fried has been an elder law attorney in Washington, D.C., since 1985, so imagine her surprise when she was stumped last weekend helping her mother pick a policy through the Plan Finder.
868彩票地址Fried, who is also senior director of the Center for Benefits Access at the National Council on Aging, did the same search three times for the least expensive plans that cover her mother’s drugs and came up with a different result each time.
“Beneficiaries should be able to have confidence in the Plan Finder after a single search,” she said.
For assistance reviewing drug and medical plans, call your state’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program at 877-839-2675 or the Medicare Rights Center at 800-333-4114.. This story can be republished for free (details).