Five years after the launch of Medicare prescription drug coverage, many beneficiaries are still struggling to sign up, according to a new report from the Medicare Rights Center.
The report highlights how hard it is for beneficiaries to choose among "a multitude of plans that have different benefit structures, pharmacy networks, formularies and rules for accessing benefits." It found that 43 percent of respondents to a recent survey chose to enroll in plans recommended by the Medicare agency's online Plan Finder tool, while 57 percent chose not to.
"This report reinforces what we hear time and again on our helpline," center President Joe Baker said in a statement. "The Part D plan selection process is enough to make many beneficiaries and their loved ones throw up their arms in surrender. People simply want to be able to find and enroll in the drug plan that is right for them, without getting stuck in a morass of indistinguishable plan options."
The report makes four primary recommendations for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: beneficiaries and their advocates should be able to identify the most comprehensive and affordable plan upon their initial Plan Finder search; the data should be reorganized and a decision tree created to hep guide them; Medicare resources should provide consistent information; and CMS should consolidate plans that lack meaningful differences in order to give beneficiaries access to a manageable number of meaningfully distinct plan choices.