Health & Fitness

When Medicare choices get “fairly insane,” many seniors flip their eyes away

The indifference cannot be attributed to a lack of information.

Each September, Medicare sends an annual change notice document (by mail or email) detailing changes to an individual’s current coverage for the coming year, such as: B. the premium and the co-payments. Medicare also sends out a comprehensive manual titled Medicare & You which provides detailed information on plan options. A variety of email notifications inviting attendees to purchase their coverage through the Medicare Plan Finder website also go out each fall.

Insurance companies flood the radio waves and mailboxes with advertisements and brochures.

None of this works very well. The Kaiser study found that 44 percent of participants had never visited the Medicare website. Another 18 percent said they did not have access to the Internet or had no one to go online for them. Only half reported that they checked Medicare & You. Only 28 percent have ever called the Medicare hotline (800-MEDICARE) for information. The rest of them never called or didn’t even know the line existed.

According to experts, if you are only enrolled in Original Medicare with a Medigap supplement plan and are not on a medication plan, there is no need to reassess your coverage. However, Part-D drug plans should be reviewed annually. The same applies to benefit plans, which often require a prescription and can make changes to their duty roster for network-internal healthcare providers.

“Plans can change not only the monthly premium but also the list of medications insured,” said Frederic Riccardi, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “And they can change the rules for your access to drugs, impose volume restrictions or require prior authorization.”

Complexity is a key issue. Kaiser found that 30 percent of participants said the Medicare program was either “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult” to understand, and those percentages were higher among younger Medicare patients with disabilities or ill health.

These plans must meet federal requirements for benefits covered, cost sharing and other characteristics. However, drug plans have tiers with different co-payments, co-insurance, and preferred options for branded, generic, and pharmacy drugs.

“The amount of information consumers have to gather is staggering and prevents them from doing a search,” said Riccardi. “They feel paralyzed when they make a choice and some just don’t believe there is a better plan for them.”

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