CMS launches overhaul of Medicare Plan Finder aimed at improving usability 

Medicare Advantage
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has launched a significant update to its Medicare Plan Finder. (Getty/designer491)

The Trump administration is launching a large-scale overhaul of its Medicare Plan Finder tool with the goal of making it easier to use and better at arming consumers with information on their options. 

The tool hasn’t been updated in a decade, and its outdated functionalities were the subject of a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) , which warned that it was far from user-friendly

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma said on a call with reporters Monday that the updated tool is aimed at empowering consumers with a more individualized experience. 

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“We are pleased to offer a modern, easy-to-use, easy-to-read design, offering a personalized experience,” Verma said. 

RELATED: As Medicare population booms, MA plans eye growth opportunities, survey finds 

The updated version of the Plan Finder launched today but will continue to coexist alongside the original version of the tool through September, allowing members to get used to the redesign. Medicare’s open enrollment begins Oct. 15. 

The new version of the tool is designed to be more mobile-friendly as well, as many Medicare beneficiaries turn to tech-savvy family members or caregivers to assist with selecting a plan, a CMS official said on the call.  

Beneficiaries will have two options when they sign into the new tool: to navigate it using an account or to proceed as a guest. By logging in with an account, personal data about the member will be loaded such as their existing Medicare coverage, drugs they use and pharmacies they frequent. 

Medicare beneficiaries will then be able to browse choices in traditional Medicare, Medigap supplemental insurance, Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plans. 

RELATED: 21% of MA enrollees offered supplemental benefits in 2019 

By selecting several plans, beneficiaries can compare directly the associated costs including premiums, copays and deductibles. 

Not all data will be available on the updated tool, however. The GAO noted in its report that a key pain point for consumers is that provider network data for MA plans are not available within the tool, which can hinder their ability to effectively compare plan options. 

CMS did address some of the GAO’s concerns, however, and is making it easier to filter plans and is providing some integrated cost data, such as drug pricing. 

Verma said CMS views updating Medicare Plan Finder as an ongoing process, so additional features are in the hopper. 

“We see quality improvement as an ongoing task,” Verma said. 

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