CMS is planning some significant changes to the Medicare Plan Finder for the upcoming 2019 AEP. This special edition of the Medicare Newsletter is intended to inform you of the changes and how NAHU will manage these changes as we work with CMS to make the transition as smooth as possible during this busy season.
CMS has been under pressure by various advocacy groups for some time to make changes to the plan finder. Along with congressional interest, CMS is rolling out changes that the agency feels will improve the beneficiary experience.
Blue Button 2.0
The new CMS platform, Blue Button 2.0, hosts approved apps that will allow beneficiaries to chose plans and share data with approved organizations.
In order to access Blue Button 2.0, all current beneficiaries will need to establish new passwords so agents will need to work with their clients to create and save these passwords, including a new challenge question for future reset purposes, so you will want to keep track of the challenge questions. The passwords being expunged right now are those set by CMS and never used by beneficiaries. They cannot crosswalk or transfer passwords because of proprietary software that will expire later next month.
The old system for 2019 plans will remain in place until the end of September and the new system will go public about Sept 5. After that, only the new system will work for 2020 plan year offerings. Independent agents can continue to operate without reliance on an FMO.
The good news about setting up the new Plan Finder ID and password means you do not have to input any of the beneficiaries’ drugs because CMS will populate their drug history based on claims data. You can eliminate or add new drugs, change dosage, etc., before searching for best plan fit based on what you know and the claim history. Additionally, the system will also show generic and brand-name equivalents, which will be handy as beneficiaries are often confused by drug names.
In reviewing Blue Button 2.0, we noted a number of issues with Enroll Hero that NAHU shared with CMS. The agency agrees and they are undertaking a review of Enroll Hero. Among other issues, Enroll Hero includes the language regarding agents we find concerning and we have requested that it be taken down.
Rollout of Blue Button 2.0
CMS hosted a webinar on August 16 and another webinar is scheduled for September 5. Following the first webinar, NAHU requested that CMS allow additional time for Q&A and a mailbox to submit questions with a place to see Q&As following the webinar. We also offered to help push out information from CMS anything affecting enrollment, agents or beneficiary experience. In addition, a NAHU mailbox (MedicarePlanFinder@nahu.org) is being established to collect your feedback so we can request necessary changes as we move through the AEP.
Finally, NAHU will have an opportunity to have an app placed on the 2.0 site so that beneficiaries can locate an agent — a valuable benefit for members.
These changes provide challenges but also opportunities. Our organization is partnering with CMS to provide the best beneficiary experience possible and providing constructive feedback on what is working and what isn’t. This is an important time and an opportunity to demonstrate to CMS that agents are a critical bridge for beneficiaries navigating their benefits. We look forward to continuing to work with CMS to strive for the best possible experience for both beneficiaries and agents.