As the Annual Enrollment Period approaches, it’s important to be aware of changes affecting the tools and resources you use and understand how to navigate through any updates.
In August 2019, Medicare.gov updated their online Plan Finder. The old version of the tool was sunset at the end of September 2019, so the new version of the Medicare Plan Finder is now what you’ll use to compare and filter plans.
IMPORTANT: Agents cannot save and store client drug lists on the new version.
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Using the New Medicare Plan Finder
Since this tool automatically pulls in the last 12 months of Medicare claims data, it’s really useful for analyzing cost comparisons. The August CMS webinar is a great resource for the rundown on using the updated Plan Finder.
We’ve broken down the times when the following processes are covered during the August webinar:
- Client’s MyMedicare.gov account creation (14:38)
- Plan type selection (Original Medicare + Med Supp/PDP or Medicare Advantage) (17:00)
- Drug selection and validation of dosage, packaging, preferred pharmacies (17:53)
- MAPD plan comparison and filtering (23:13)
- PDP plan comparison and filtering (30:41)
Recently, CMS added several new resources to a page about the new Medicare Plan Finder, including an overview video of the new Medicare Plan Finder, pointer videos, a flyer on how to create a Plan Finder account, and more. They have also released a Top 10 Questions & Answers for those Helping People with Medicare document that correlates to the new Medicare Plan Finder. In this document, they state that the following updates will be made before the start of the Annual Enrollment Period.
- Display drug tier costs
- Link directly from MyMedicare.gov to new Plan Finder
- Integrate partial gap coverage into cost sharing
- Adding Original Medicare info and card for comparison
- Add sort option for total cost (plan premium + drug costs)
- Add footnote for excluded drugs
- Maintain filters and SNP selections when using back button
- Add option to add mail order on pharmacy selection page
- Refine the ZIP code entry process
- Show distinction between preferred in-network versus in-network pharmacy on the Costs-by-Phase table
- Add note about over-the-counter drugs to drug-lookup page
- Add option to compare a third retail pharmacy when mail order isn’t selected
- Improve print format
- Update various backend technical details to prepare for display of 2020 plans
Pathways into the New Plan Finder
There are two ways to gain access to use the new Plan Finder: logged-in and anonymous access.
Logged-in access requires clients to create an account on MyMedicare.gov. We recommend you help your client create a MyMedicare.gov account (requires Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI)). Doing so will allow your client to permanently save prescription drug info and run the filter tool when side by side with you. Under no circumstances should you create MyMedicare.gov accounts for your clients. You should only assist in the process at their request.
Your clients’ accounts and associated claims data will be beneficial for future plan recommendation tools available through Medicare and Ritter. There are certain criteria necessary for creating client accounts, including a unique username. We suggest clients use their email address as this will be easy to remember and exclusive to them.
IMPORTANT: It’s crucial to note the logged-in version features an enrollment button. If your clients select this and complete their enrollment this way, you won’t be the Agent of Record. It will be a direct sale to the insurance company.
Anonymous access does not require an account. While you can’t store and recall any client drug information using this pathway, there is no potential risk of your clients completing an enrollment without your assistance.
General MyMedicare.gov/Medicare Plan Finder (MPF) FAQs
If my client doesn’t have a Medicare number, are they still able to shop on the new MPF?
Yes. The client can do an anonymous search to learn more about their Medicare options. However, no information will be loaded or saved since they are not able to create an account.
Can we still use Drug ID and Password Dates to access saved drug lists?
You can use the Drug ID List and Password Date to access your saved drug lists from the old Medicare Plan Finder until the end of the Annual Enrollment Period. Print your previous list before this information expires.
How do you save an anonymous search?
If you create a drug list using the anonymous search, the only way to save that drug list is by signing in to the system.
Is the new MPF be available in Spanish?
Yes. The new MPF is available in both English and Spanish.
Will Medicare Agents still be able to do any kind of plan comparison for clients?
Yes. Agents can use the anonymous search to input information, but that information will not be saved. The agent can also help the client create a MyMedicare.gov account to access claims data and complete a plan comparison from there.
When will the old MPF be unavailable?
The old MPF is no longer available. You must use the new MPF for all plan searches.
If a beneficiary doesn’t want to set up a MyMedicare.gov account, can they still use the new MPF?
Yes. However, their information would not be saved. Because of this, they would need to manually add their information each time they complete a search. Logged-out users can also print a drug list.
When performing an anonymous search, will the beneficiary need to go through the “learning screens?”
No. They can choose to go right to the Plan Finder option.
What is the purpose of making beneficiaries log in to save their drug lists?
According to CMS, this was put in place as a security feature.
Where can we send feedback/concerns about the new MPF?
Email feedback to email@example.com.
Is there still a way to see if a person qualifies for Extra Help?
Yes. But this information is only available for logged-in users.
Can a user self-enroll in a plan through the MPF?
Yes. An assisting agent will not receive credit for this sale.
Will users have access to their Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) through MyMedicare.gov?
Yes. On MyMedicare.gov there is an option to review the MSN online. The user will still receive a mailed copy as well, unless they take an affirmative action to only receive the online version.
Will the MPF show logged-in users what Medigap plan they currently have?
Will the live chat be available 24/7 during AEP?
Yes. Thanksgiving Day is the only exception. 1-800-Medicare and the live chat option will not be available on Thursday, November 28, 2019.
Can a user enroll in a plan without creating an account?
Yes. But they will have to input more information than the logged-in user would.
If MPF is not showing the correct Extra Help information, how can we price the correct information?
If the MPF is not showing the correct Extra Help information for the specific client or to check prices for upcoming LIS changes, the user should do an anonymous search with the correct information to see accurate pricing.
How often is LIS and Extra Help data updated?
How does the live chat work?
Chat questions are answered by 1-800-Medicare customer service representatives. They have a separate team dedicated to handling the live chat questions.
Is the live chat available for logged-out users?
No. A user must be logged-in to use the live chat feature.
Logging in/Creating an Account FAQs
Does the beneficiary need to have an email address to create an account?
No. If they do have an email, it is encouraged for the beneficiary to provide that information when they create an account. In this case, a confirmation letter will be mailed to the beneficiary when they create an account, rather than be emailed.
Once a MyMedicare.gov account is created will username and password be activated immediately?
Yes. Once a beneficiary creates their username and password, they can log in immediately.
If you try to create a MyMedicare.gov account but already have one, will the system stop you?
Yes. If you already have a username and password connected to your information, the system will let you know and prompt you to go through the username and password recovery.
Can two beneficiaries have the same username?
No. Usernames must be unique. If the desired username is already taken, the beneficiary will need to choose another one.
When a beneficiary sets up an account using the MPF, will that also create a MyMedicare.gov account at the same time?
Yes. Similarly, creating a MyMedicare.gov account will create an account for the MPF. It is the same account.
Are there password requirements?
Yes. The requirements will appear on screen when the user is prompted to create a password.
How often must the password be changed?
At minimum, once every two years.
Can you create an account if something doesn’t match what’s on file with CMS (i.e., MBI or zip code)?
The user will not be able to create an account if the information is not correct. If the user moved or something isn’t right, the user will need to call 1-800-Medicare to make the necessary changes.
Is the username and password the same for MPF and MyMedicare.gov?
If you create an account with no email, how do you recover the log-in info?
All a user needs to recover account information is the secret question/answer and Medicare Beneficiary Identifier available on a Medicare card.
If a user forgets his account info, can they create a new one?
No. The user would need to go through the username and password recovery.
Drug List and Plan Comparisons FAQs
Will drugs auto-generate for people who did not previously have a MyMedicare.gov account?
The system will only pull drug data from prescriptions that have been filled with a Medicare drug plan. If the beneficiary has been on a Medicare drug plan for years and is just now creating a MyMedicare.gov account, their drugs from the past 12 months will auto-generate in the drug list.
Can users get a side-by-side, detailed comparison on one page?
Yes. Users can compare up to three plans at a time.
Can you look for Medigap plans on the MPF?
You can find general information about Medigap plans, like price range and coverage, but users cannot see specific Medigap plan details on the MPF.
Can you look up provider information for MA plans in the MPF?
No. As of right now, there are only links that will take the user to the carrier’s online portal.
Does the MPF give ratings for Medigap plans?
No. Since Medigap plans are regulated by the state, rather than CMS, this data is not available on Medicare.gov.
Can you see Medigap plans specifically for the user’s area and age?
The user can get general information regarding Medigap plans like price range, coverage, and providers in the state. The MPF will not be able to give specific pricing for the different plans in the user’s area.
Can you compare Medigap plans using the MPF?
You can compare general information like coverage difference between the Medigap plans and a price difference (given as price range).
How would a user edit an existing drug list?
In both the anonymous and logged-in view of the MPF, there is a button labeled “add drugs,” which can be used to add drugs to the drug lists. When viewing the drug list, there are options to “remove drug” and “edit drug.”
Will medications auto-generate for users who are under 65 on disability?
If they are on Medicare, the system will automatically upload the prescriptions that have been filled with a Medicare drug plan from the last 12 months.
Is there a way to get more information on various services?
Throughout the MPF, you will see links for more information as well as + signs that can provide more information on various topics.
Can users print plan details and comparisons?
Has the drug list limit been increased?
Yes. The drug list limit has been increased from 25 to 40.
Will Part B drug information be included on the MPF?
Yes. But only under the Medicare Advantage plan details, not in the PDP details.
How many pharmacies can you choose to price compare?
Up to three.
Can you find which pharmacies are preferred in Medicare drug plans?
Yes. When reviewing the drug plan details, it will tell you if your selected pharmacies are preferred.
Are Dual-Eligible Demonstration plans on the MPF?
Yes. They will be listed under Special Needs Plans.
Where does the data on Medigap plans come from and how often is it updated?
The data comes from the state’s DOI and is updated a few times per year.
Can you enroll in a Medigap plan through the MPF?
No. Users can find contact information for the plan to enroll through the carrier, but not through the MPF.