Fifteen senators have written to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting the federal agency reopen enrollment for Medicare prescription drug plans. According to the Associated Press, the new Medicare plan finder has steered unwitting beneficiaries to enroll in plans that are more expensive than they need.
The new Medicare plan finder
Medicare launched a new plan finder this year, which has many improvements but has also come with much criticism.
The former Medicare plan finder sorted plans based on total out-of-pocket costs. However, the new plan finder sorts plans based on the lowest premium, which may cause unwitting seniors to overlook high-deductible plans and total out-of-pocket costs, both of which are in much smaller font.
This means seniors may go into 2020 paying thousands of dollars more in drug costs per year than they may have if they had used the old, simpler plan finder.
A letter from the senators
On December 6, CMS hinted that they will open a new “special enrollment period” for beneficiaries who feel duped or misled.
In a letter to CMS, the senators claim many seniors in their states enrolled in expensive plans based on inaccurate information on drug pricing and coverage.
“We urge [Medicare] to make it clear to every…beneficiary that they qualify for a special enrollment period if they were misled,” they said. “Older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers must be made aware that there is reprieve from errors caused by the faulty tool.”
The senators also requested that CMS administrator, Seema Verma, widely publicize the special open enrollment period and remove any paperwork hurdles so beneficiaries won’t feel discouraged from changing plans that are too expensive for them.
How to contact Medicare for a new plan
According to a blog post from CMS, Medicare wants to “ensure that beneficiaries are confident in their decisions and happy with the coverage they choose.”
If you purchased a plan that is too expensive due to inaccurate information or a confusing plan finder, you can call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE, where call center representatives are ready 24/7 to help you find a better plan. Beneficiaries will not need to provide proof of technical problems or screenshots—they only need to call a Medicare representative and request to change plans.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you already have another enrollment period coming up from January 1 to March 31. During this time, you can switch Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, or leave Medicare Advantage and re-enroll in Original Medicare.