Thursday, November 21, 2013

Scrapping Obamacare's Healthcare.gov for Medicare.gov


The problems plaguing HealthCare.gov saturate the news cycle as one story after another documents the difficulties uninsured Americans are encountering as they attempt to sign up for health insurance coverage on the online federal exchange.  The question that comes to mind as I hear the stories about low sign-up rates due to glitches on the exchange is why wasn't HealthCare.gov built in the image of medicare.gov?

We are currently in Medicare's open enrollment period, October 15th to December 7, and I have been working with beneficiaries to sign them up or review their current plan options through medicare.gov, Medicare's official website.  The website works seamlessly as I research its databases to find available plans; review costs and benefits; screen beneficiaries for Extra Help or Prescription Advantage, the federal and state federal assistance programs that help low-income and low-asset beneficiaries with Medicare Part D drug plan costs; and provide enrollment assistance.



There's never a time that the system freezes or crashes on me. Searches can be very specific or general, either linked to a Medicare ID number or zip code.  So if using medicare.gov is so easy, what happened with HealthCare.gov?  If the medicare.gov system has quietly cranked out the right information for users without significant obstacles, why wasn't healthcare.gov created using the same techies and blueprint?

Now that I've cleared these observations and questions from my mind, I leave you with a few tips about the Medicare open enrollment period:
  • All new enrollments take effect on January 1st. 
  • Beneficiaries who elect not to change their plans are automatically re-enrolled into their 2013 plans for 2014.
  • Carefully read the fine print about plans because of possible changes in premiums, co-pays, medication formularies or contract terminations. 
  • Ask about Extra Help and Prescription Advantage for co-pay, deductible and premium assistance with Part D. 
Keep an eye out for the next entry, which will outline Medicare Part D drug plans' four phases of coverage. Stay tuned.

What's your take on this entry?  Leave a comment or use the contact form at the bottom of the blog to request more individualized answers on Medicare, healthcare.gov and open enrollment. 

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