73% of SHIP directors say beneficiaries experience trouble with the online Medicare shopping tool – bolstering CAHC’s calls for privatization
WASHINGTON, DC (July 30, 2019): The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) cited key findings from the Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC) in a report released today entitled, “Medicare Plan Finder: Usability Problems and Incomplete Information Create Challenges for Beneficiaries Comparing Coverage Options.”
The report, which details flaws in Medicare’s online shopping tool, includes three citations of an April 2018 study released by CAHC’s Clear Choices Campaign and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) entitled, “Modernizing Medicare Plan Finder: Evaluating and Improving Medicare’s Online Comparison Shopping Experience.”
GAO found that 73 percent of State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) directors reported that it is “difficult” or “very difficult” for beneficiaries to navigate Medicare Plan Finder – echoing early findings from CAHC and bolstering calls for outsourcing certain site functions to the private sector.
“CAHC is pleased to see GAO’s acknowledgment of our research on the unacceptable flaws in Medicare Plan Finder and the urgent need for reform,” said CAHC President Joel White.“Today’s report confirms what we already know: more than 20 years after the launch of Medicare Plan Finder, nearly three-fourths of beneficiaries still experience trouble using this site. It’s time we stop painting over the problem with piecemeal solutions that throw good money after bad to prop up a failing website that isn’t serving consumers. This report – and the years-long work of CAHC before it – should give policymakers ample incentive to turn over the site’s comparison shopping and enrollment functions to the private sector.”
In the 2018 CAHC and NCOA study highlighted by GAO, Medicare Plan Finder received a grade of “D” or “F” in seven of 13 scoring categories. CAHC and NCOA offered 11 recommendations for improvement, such as implementing a web chat feature and including an integrated provider directory, while also positing that “faced with limited budgets and considering the vast experience and expertise in the private sector, MPF could be partially or fully privatized.”