Starting this AEP Medicare beneficiaries will have a new experience when researching Medicare Plans on medicare.gov. The site is much more user friendly and provides a much cleaner user experience. The picture below displays the new home page you will see when you enter the site.
It’s hard to believe that the original MPF, one of the most widely visited tools for Medicare Beneficiaries, is ten years old. In that time, the functionality, look and user experience has pretty much remained unchanged.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) completed a study in July 2019 and found that the MPF was difficult for beneficiaries to navigate and it provided incomplete information. It also stated that beneficiaries struggle with using the MPF because it can be difficult to find information on the website and the information can be hard to understand. For example, MPF:
- Requires navigation through multiple pages before displaying plan details,
- Lacks prominent instructions to help find information, and
- Contains complex terms that make it difficult to understand information.
In response to a 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.
New and Improved MPF
CMS has redesigned the MPF site to tackle the problems raised above and from first glance (the CMS training and the new MPF view online) it appears that CMS has greatly improved the navigation and ability to find information. CMS conducted intensive rounds of consumer testing, took information from multiple reports and recommendations from web design experts to develop the new look, feel and navigation.
Beneficiaries still have the option to go on the site as a blind user or to sign into the site. For Medicare beneficiaries who sign into the site and create an account there are a couple of very personalized experiences that are only available if you create an account.
- When it brings up drugs, the site will populate the drugs that are on file that beneficiary is known to have taken. The beneficiary will have the opportunity to accept all of the drugs or to add or delete drugs to the list. This will help personalize their estimated drug costs.
- You have the opportunity to utilize a live chat feature that will take you real time to a representative from 1-800-Medicare who can help the beneficiary with their questions.
Even if you don’t sign in there are still really great new features:
- You can now select three pharmacies instead of two when you are asked to select pharmacies.
- Before you could only compare two Plans for MA and PDP plans, now you can compare three plans
- There are new filters for selection such as star rating, company, different supplemental benefits (wellness, vision, dental, hearing, transportation and fitness benefits), covers all the drugs on the beneficiary’s drug list
- The plan details is much more inclusive with many of the supplemental benefits including those that apply only to beneficiaries with chronic conditions
Medicare beneficiaries and agents who utilize this for their clients will definitely see a great improvement but there is still room for a better experience for beneficiaries. Some of the immediate ones we noticed were:
- The ability to see if the beneficiary’s doctor is in the network – this is one CMS is looking to tackle soon
- Medicare Supplement premiums – there is still a range of premium but CMS is hoping to get better data to fix this issue.
- With many of the new supplemental benefits it only states whether they are covered or not but does not show the benefit detail, such as cost-sharing and limitations. This still does not provide beneficiaries with all the information they need to make the best decision.
Overall it is a great next step. Go on the site now to get a look. Up until AEP, you see the old site but can access the new site. Once AEP arrives you will only be able to see the new and improved MPF.