Medicare beneficiaries across the country are in the midst of navigating their health care coverage options for 2021. Medicare’s annual Open Enrollment, which is from Oct 15 – Dec 7, is in full swing, and is the main time each year that beneficiaries can return to Original Medicare or change their Medicare Advantage and/or Part D drug coverage for the upcoming year. To do this, beneficiaries rely on the Medicare Plan Finder tool on Medicare.gov to get detailed information about each plan’s network of providers/pharmacies, plan formularies, out-of pocket costs and more. State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) across the country also use this tool with beneficiaries when counseling them on their plan options and helping people find the best coverage at the lowest cost for their needs.
Yet, similar to last year’s Medicare Plan Finder (MPF) inaccuracies, reports came in earlier this month on erroneous and incomplete information on this year’s MPF. This is disturbing news because inaccurate and incomplete MPF information causes hardship, and can have significant financial, quality of care and health consequences for beneficiaries. The good news, however, is that as of 10/26, the inaccuracies have been corrected.
If you or someone you know had used the MPF to make your coverage choice for 2021, and then in January find out your plan is not what you expected due to erroneous MPF information, call your local Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program to request a Special Enrollment Period.
Medicare Plan Finder problems reported earlier this month include:
- Some plans not displaying full drug costs
- Some plans not displaying accurate pharmacy network information
- Beneficiaries with Extra Help not being able to see their accurate cost-sharing
We are working with partner organizations to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to extend this year’s Open Enrollment past the Dec 7 end date to help account for the lost enrollment time due to MPF errors and inaccuracies. We are also advocating for a blanket Special Enrollment Period to be available to anyone who needs to make a plan change due to faulty information on the MPF. We will keep you posted on any changes/protections CMS offers.
In the meantime, please continue to contact your local HICAP at 1-800-434-0222 for assistance and with any questions about your Medicare coverage choices for 2021.