Medicare Launches New Online Tool for Choosing Rx Drug Benefit Plans
The open enrollment period for the Medicare prescription drug benefit begins on Thursday, and CMS has established a new online tool to help with the comparison of plans, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The tool, which appears on the Medicare.gov Web site, allows users to enter the list of medications that Medicare beneficiaries currently take to determine the amount that each prescription drug plan charges for premiums, copayments and deductibles.
In addition, the tool allows users to compare Medicare prescription drug plans based on customer service and other areas. The tool also allows users to compare Medicare Advantage plans based on overall quality, disease management, access to physicians and other areas.
The tool is part of Medicare Path Finder, which also appears on the Web site and allows users to compare prescription drug plans based on out-of-pocket costs and pharmacy networks. The Web site also includes a tool that addresses the so-called "doughnut hole" coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems said of the new tool, "This is really moving into consumer-driven health care."
Tricia Neuman, a Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and director of the Medicare Policy Project at the Foundation, said that the tool in large part will help health insurance counselors, family members and others because many Medicare beneficiaries do not use the Internet or e-mail (Zhang, Wall Street Journal, 11/15).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Thursday reported on efforts to help Medicare beneficiaries determine whether they should switch prescription drug plans during the open enrollment period.
The segment includes comments from Leta Blank, head of the Montgomery County, Md., Senior Health Insurance Program; Neuman; Kevin Prindiville, a staff attorney at the National Senior Citizens Law Center; and a Medicare beneficiary (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 11/15).
Audio and a partial transcript of the segment are available online.