For Medicare Beneficiaries on Medicare Advantage Plans or Part D Prescription Plans, there is an opportunity each year to review and switch these Plans during the Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 - December 7).
The best tool available to analyze these options is the Medicare Plan Finder (MPF) on Medicare.gov. This tool allows us to search for the best Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D Prescription Plans for each individual based on their specific medications/needs.
I cannot overstate the importance of the MPF for finding the right plan. Without a tool like the MPF, there would be no efficient way to shop for the best Plan for each individual in each service area across the country. The tool allows someone to quickly compare over 20 different Part D Plan options and 10-30 different Medicare Advantage Plan options (depending on the service area).
Over the years, there have been some flaws with the system, but overall it is quite an effective tool for Agents to shop for these Medicare Plans.
Recently, the the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study which highlighted some usability issues with the MPF according to “stakeholders and research studies”.
What GAO Found
The Medicare Plan Finder (MPF) website—a primary resource for comparing Medicare coverage options—is difficult for beneficiaries to use and provides incomplete information, according to stakeholders and research studies. These sources and directors of State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) GAO surveyed—who assist beneficiaries with their Medicare coverage choices—reported that beneficiaries struggle with using MPF because it can be difficult to find information on the website and the information can be hard to understand. For example, MPF
In response to GAO's survey, 73 percent of SHIP directors reported that beneficiaries experience difficulty finding information in MPF, while 18 percent reported that SHIP counselors experience difficulty.
My perspective is slightly different. I think the MPF does a great job of providing a quick comparison of coverage options for Medicare Beneficiaries. Sure, it’s not perfect (and there are even times when the data is off, which is a problem), but overall I think the MPF tool is incredibly valuable.
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