Is the Medicare Plan Finder really helpful?

“I certainly hope that the Medicare Plan Finder will make this easier for me.”

by the National Council On Aging

Older Americans are told they can rely on the Medicare Plan Finder tool to compare and choose the plan that best meets their needs. However, a new report co-authored by the National Council on Aging and the Clear Choices Campaign finds that the Plan Finder tool is not delivering on that promise.

The site is overwhelming, information is poorly presented, and the user design is potentially misleading—all of which confuses beneficiaries and can contribute to many making poor plan selections. Two of the biggest shortcomings are out-of-pocket cost information is difficult to understand and provider directories are difficult to navigate.

On a scorecard of the 12 features needed to support online enrollment choices, Medicare Plan Finder received A’s in only 2 categories – anonymous browsing and language accessibility – while it received 7 failing grades.

With 10,000 Boomers aging into Medicare every day, several improvements can and should be made to the basic features of the Medicare Plan Finder that would mirror technology advancements commonly found in the private sector and even on some of the Affordable Care Act public health exchange websites.

The key findings of the report are:

  • Out-of-pocket cost information is difficult to understand.
  • Provider and Pharmacy directories are difficult to navigate.
  • Plan comparisons do not permit inclusion of Medigap policies.
  • The website layout and display are confusing.
  • Language is not user-friendly.
  • Navigation and functionality are complex and inconsistent.
  • Human support is not available.
  • Information on quality Star Ratings is confusing.
  • Plan information is not customized well.
  • Information is not consistently accurate.

The report includes 11 key and 25 detailed recommendations that NCOA and Clear Choices believe will improve the Medicare Plan Finder and ensure that every beneficiary has access to the information they need to make the best Medicare decision for their situation.

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