CMS is making some changes to Medicare for 2020 and on first blush, it may not be good. Both brokers and Medicare recipients have www.medicare.gov to use to search among the 18 different Medicare Advantage Plans (MAPD) and the 26 different drugs plans available in Nevada.
You simply went to www.medicare.gov, inputted your home zip code under the basic search or entered your Medicare number and then proceeded to input your medications and dosage, then your pharmacy and it would offer you the choice of seeing the 18 MAPD plans or 26 drug plans, or both, in your area to help you decide which plan or plans would work best for you. Great tool for Medicare recipients and an even greater tool for brokers because you can go to one spot, input the medications and the system told you the best options for your client. This information is also stored on medicare.gov and it saved the Medicare recipient and the broker valuable time because you could retrieve the information annually, make changes to medications and see which plan or plans would work best for your client for the upcoming year. A fantastic tool to use which saved time and energy since the AEP (Annual Election Period is only 52 days long).
If there was no website to go to you would have to go to each insurance company website to input the medications to see what their plan offered. With 18 MAPD carriers, and 26 drug plans that means inputting the same information 18 or 26 times. Time-consuming and mostly a waste of time.
Now, CMS is going to change their website and erase the saved data and require you to input the information, including your Medicare ID number, zip code and who knows what other information? What was anonymous is now going to be personal.
What was explained is that you can now go to www.medicare.gov, input your Medicare ID # and zip code and the system will populate your drug information from what CMS already has on file from paying claims. CMS figures this is an easier way. What is really happening is CMS had too many files of anonymous zip codes with drug information. While I can understand that as all brokers and many Medicare recipients use this system to lookup drug plans, CMS could simply purge files that haven’t been accessed for say two or three years or some other method?
Perhaps their website is getting too large to handle? Whatever the reason or reasons, it is only going to make more work for all concerned. Not in the best interest of the public.
As it stands today there are many brokers who don’t sell drug plans because the commission money just isn’t there or they don’t want to do the extra work required. This change will allow them to justify not providing a complete service to their clients. This change will have a negative effect on everyone.
Either way, I personally believe in order to do a job properly, you must do it in its entirety or not do it at all. Even though there is no real commission money in selling drug plans I believe it’s my obligation as a broker to provide a complete solution for my clients.
The other change to the website is it will now show MAPD plans, supplemental plans, and drug plans all in one spot. All any Medicare recipient who had to look up and view 18 MAPD plans, 10 supplemental plans and 26 drug plans. TMI (Too much information to digest by one person who is already confused by so much information.) They typically will lose interest quickly and become confused about the best choice for them. As a broker familiar with all that Medicare offers, it is easier to help that client choose the best option for them by asking questions and working through all their concerns.
I am very disappointed in CMS and their total lack of concern for Medicare recipients and brokers. While in the long run, this might be better, the work brokers and clients will have to do to input the drug information is simply too much to do in so little time to do it.
This is a major step in reverse for everyone. Something needs to be done to reverse this position and go back to what we have been used to for many years. Leaving it the way it is, works in the best interests of everyone concerned.
Will keep everyone posted as changes develop.
Len Barend, broker
The Barend Agency Inc.