Key Takeaways

  • Both NCOA and the Clear Choices Campaign, the authors of this report, are dedicated to the proposition that empowered consumers can stimulate system-wide improvements in the quality and cost of health care.

  • For competitive markets to work well, consumers need to be well-informed and able to make decisions that best meet their particular needs and preferences.

  • This report presents our review of the consumer-facing features of Medicare Plan Finder (MPF), the federal technology platform used to present information to consumers on coverage options, including information on Medicare Parts C and D and Medicare supplemental insurance policies.

By the year 2030, more than 80 million individuals will be enrolled in the Medicare program, up from 59 million today. More than 10,000 people are joining the program each day as the first wave of the Baby Boom generation retires. How are beneficiaries signing up for coverage? What tools are available to help them enroll? Can these tools be improved, and if so, how?

Older Americans are told they can rely on the Medicare Plan Finder tool to compare and choose the plan that best meets their needs. However, a new report co-authored by NCOA and the Clear Choices Campaign finds that the Plan Finder tool is not delivering on that promise.

The site is overwhelming, information is poorly presented, and the user design is potentially misleading—all of which confuses beneficiaries and can contribute to many making poor plan selections. Two of the biggest shortcomings are out-of-pocket cost information is difficult to understand and provider directories are difficult to navigate.

The report includes 11 key and 25 detailed recommendations that NCOA and Clear Choices believe will improve the Medicare Plan Finder and ensure that every beneficiary has access to the information they need to make the best Medicare decision for their situation.