Options for Improving Choice Under Medicare Part D

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<p>A majority of Medicare beneficiaries who signed up for the Part D prescription drug benefit during the program's first two years have reported that the process of selecting from among the numerous private drug plan offerings is too complicated. This complexity may have kept some beneficiaries from finding the plan that best filled their needs--and possibly from even enrolling in Part D in the first place.<br><br>The new Commonwealth Fund issue brief, <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2008/may/medicare-part-d--simplifying-the-program-and-improving-the-value-of-information-for-beneficiaries
">Medicare Part D: Simplifying the Program and Improving the Value of Information for Beneficiaries,</a> lays out specific options for improving beneficiaries' choices under Part D by introducing a greater degree of standardization. The author, Jack Hoadley, Ph.D., of Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute, discusses possible reforms in three areas:<ul><li>standardizing benefit descriptions and procedures used by plans and the Medicare program;</li><li>standardizing plans' cost-sharing requirements, including those for deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments; and</li><li>simplifying the rules governing plan formularies.</ul>Hoadley believes some of the estimated 4.6 million beneficiaries who still have no source of drug coverage might have enrolled had the process of choosing been simpler. By reducing beneficiaries' confusion and anxiety about participating in Part D, the reforms presented in the brief could make a big difference for these and other seniors. "Better information and more clearly defined choices might increase their ability to make appropriate decisions about Part D, improve their well-being, and strengthen the program," he says.</p>