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, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated their Medicare.gov online Plan Finder. The old version of the tool was sunset at the end of September 2019. CMS has not made any additional changes to this tool over the last year, so if you used it in 2019, you should know how to use it this year! However, if you need a refresher or have never used this tool, we’re covering what you need to know about it to successfully compare and filter plans.
IMPORTANT: Agents cannot save and store client drug lists on the new Medicare Plan Finder.
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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. While we could easily type out instructions for using this tool, we feel it may be easier to learn the ins and outs of this tool by watching CMS’ tutorial on how to use the new Medicare Plan Finder. (Good news! This video is designed so that you can also share it with your clients.) CMS’ Top 10 Questions & Answers for those Helping People with Medicare document may also be a helpful resource when learning how to navigate plan finder.
Pathways into the New Plan Finder
It’s important to note that there are two ways you can access the new Plan Finder: logged-in and logged-out (anonymous). Logged-in access requires clients to create a MyMedicare.gov account; however, once they do so, they can save their prescription drug info to access later. Logged-out users will have to reenter their info each time they want to use the tool. IMPORTANT: It’s crucial to note the logged-in version of the Medicare.gov MPF 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.
Want all the technology of the new MPF without the risk of losing enrollments? Use Ritter’s free Medicareful Plan Finder that’s integrated with their Platform CRM! All you need is a free Medicareful site. Then, have your client create an account with your site and enter their information. Once they submit it, you’ll be able to access their info without them having to be present, run drug plan estimates based on their current or desired prescriptions, and help them enroll in plans as the Agent of Record. Get credit for all your enrollments while enjoying a CRM that’s updated by your clients!
Note: No matter which path you chose, we recommend you help your client create the account, since you’re likely more tech savvy than your clients and may be familiar with these sites. Under no circumstances should you create MyMedicare.gov or Medicareful accounts for your clients. You should only assist in the process at their request. Log in at Docs.RitterIM.com to see how to invite clients to create a Medicareful account through the Ritter Platform
Is There a Safe Alternative Medicare Plan Finder?
Yes. If you have your own (free) Medicareful site, you and your clients can do the same basic search functions using that. You both can search for Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and prescription drug plans. Your clients can also create a profile and log in to your site, input pertinent info (e.g., their providers, prescriptions, pharmacies, etc.), and then share those details with you. You can then view them in the Ritter Platform, which you’ll also have free access to, at your convenience!
Unlike the Medicare.gov Plan Finder, your Medicareful site will only show plans that you’re contracted for. However, you can see Medicare Supplement pricing and easily access and review your clients’ drug lists whether you’re meeting with them in that moment or preparing for a future appointment. Additionally, any client enrollments on your site will be attributed to you!
Why consider using our Medicareful Plan Finder:
- CMS-approved consumer-facing quote engine
- Electronic Scopes of Appointment and permission to contact
- Direct, online enrollment available for several major carriers
- Available for use remotely or face-to-face with clients
- Ability to estimate your clients’ drug costs with plans
- Send your clients prefilled enrollment applications that just require a signature
- You have your own marketing, quoting, and enrollment website with a unique URL without having to pay website hosting fees or manage or maintain any technical aspects
Read more about how Ritter and Medicareful’s Drug Cost Estimator and prefilled applications work
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?
No, this feature has expired.
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 into the system.
Is the new MPF 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.
Why Ritter? We recommend using the Ritter Platform and your own Medicareful site to collect and securely save pertinent client information for plan comparisons.
Can I revert to the old MPF?
The old MPF is no longer available. You can use the new MPF or Ritter’s Medicareful Plan Finder alternative 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 will not be saved. Because of this, they will need to manually add their information each time they complete a search. Logged-out users can also print a drug list.
Why Ritter? Using the Ritter Platform, you can create and save client information without requiring your client to create an account, although both sides will benefit most from using Medicareful accounts to create a shared client record.
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.
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?
Why Ritter? A shared client record in the Ritter Platform will show a client what Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan they currently have if the enrollment was completed through Medicareful.
Will the live chat be available 24/7 during AEP?
Yes, except during some federal holidays.
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, rather than emailed, when they create an account.
Once a MyMedicare.gov account is created, will the 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 (MBI) 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 prescription drug plan 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.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2019. It has been updated to include information more relevant to the 2021 Annual Enrollment Period.