CMS launched a remodeled website Thursday that consolidates its eight online consumer tools to one platform.
The redesigned site is an attempt by CMS to give users a more streamlined experience using its platform, called Compare tools.
CMS has published information online about healthcare providers and care settings for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers for more than 15 years. One of the elements for the hospital version to convey quality, the star ratings, has come under fire for producing inconsistent results and CMS recently proposed changes to the methodology as a result.
The eight different interfaces representing each care setting was confusing and cumbersome for users, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma during a press call Wednesday. "The information will now be displayed in a modern streamlined design to make it as helpful as possible to users," Verma said.
The remodeled site, available on Medicare.gov, can now access users' location and a drop-down menu allows the consumer to select what type of provider they are looking for. Options are hospitals, nursing homes, home health, dialysis centers, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation, physicians and hospice groups. A user can compare up to three providers using information about costs, location and quality data. The site is also compatible for use on smartphone and tablets.
CMS is seeking feedback from users about the upgraded platform. There is an online survey available on Medicare.gov for users. CMS will also seek feedback from provider stakeholders who treat Medicare beneficiaries.
The coronavirus pandemic is impacting each person and family in a different way. Seniors are particularly impacted by the social distancing that is recommended for the over 60 population. Staying safe at home is changing how seniors interact with the world, but one thing hasn’t changed; seniors still rely on their agents.
Traditionally, seniors have worked closely with their agents to understand their health and life insurance options. And as Medicare offerings expand each year, it is crucial for seniors to understand the scope of their options so that they can make the right choice for their budgetary and healthcare needs.
During the coronavirus pandemic, seniors are unable to have vital in-person connections with their family and friends like they did before and are turning to technology solutions to help them stay in contact. In the same way, seniors are not able to meet with their brokers and agents for their vital consultations in the same way as they did before. As a result, many seniors are turning to technology to provide some clarity on their healthcare options. In fact,8 in 10seniors are researching their Medicare options on line.
With so many seniors researching their options independently online, it can lead brokers and agents to wonder whether seniors still need them to provide advice and recommendations? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Seniors are predominantly interested in talking with an agent either in person or over the telephone, so much so that 56% of seniors either sign up for a health plan in person or over the phone.
Preferring to speak with a broker before making a final decision is understandable because health insurance can be confusing, and a trusted advisor can help resolve any outstanding concerns. By speaking directly with a trusted broker or agent, seniors can confirm their research, ask questions they were not able to resolve, and hear testimonials explaining the experiences of others in their area.
Brokers and agents are knowledgeable of their markets and can quickly and easily help resolve any outstanding concerns. In particular, 4 in 10 seniors are looking for a Medicare plan that accepts their doctor. Local brokers and agents are well versed in their local networks and can ensure that the client’s doctor is in the network.
While it’s important for brokers and agents to know that their clients value their services, how can those needs be met during a pandemic while most seniors are practicing social distancing? The good news is that seniors are becoming more tech savvy by adopting smart phones and tablets and using them for telemedicine appointments and to video chat with their grandchildren. This means that brokers and advisors should be able to contact their clients and have consultations over the phone or via video chat.
The social distancing required to combat the coronavirus pandemic has changed how we all interact. Although seniors are particularly impacted by the pandemic, they are embracing technology solutions to help them continue to interact with the world. While staying safe at home, seniors are relying on their agents and brokers to advise them on their health insurance options; go ahead and give your clients a call — they need you.
We are pleased to launch Anthem’s Medicare products to our Agents
Anthem is a leading health benefits company dedicated to improving lives and communities, and making healthcare simpler. Through its affiliated companies, Anthem serves more than 106 million people, including more than 42 million within its family of health plans.
Annual Enrollment Period– This is the period from October 15 to December 7 when people can switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare plus enroll in a Medicare Part D plan and apply for a Medicare supplement policy. Current Medicare supp policy owners do not need to take any action — coverage continues as long as premiums are paid on time.
General Enrollment Period-Every year from January 1 – March 31, people who didn’t enroll in Medicare during their Initial Enrollment Period and are not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period may enroll in Original Medicare during this time. Please note there will likely be late enrollment penalties.
Individual Enrollment Periods
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)– The seven-month period when clients first can enroll in Medicare (three months before they turn 65, the month of their birthday, and the three months afterward).
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)– A time other than the Annual Enrollment Period or Initial Enrollment Period when people may join, change, or drop a Medicare plan. An SEP can be triggered by certain events such as a change in residence or leaving an employer’s group plan. Rules about when you can make changes and the type of changes you can make are different for each SEP.
Enrollment Periods at a Glance
Keep in mind, these are general guidelines and do not capture every situation possible, as it is nearly impossible to do here. These guidelines provide popular situations your client may be experiencing.