What You Need to Know
- Analysts looked at three online broker plan selection tools in five markets.
- The tools listed an average of about 43% of the plans available.
- About 36% of the results from the first page led to the agents' or health insurers' websites.
The government should consider setting up an online exchange that consumers could use to choose Medicare plan agents, according to a team of analysts at The Commonwealth Fund.
The government should also consider setting up a system that consumers could use to rate their Medicare plan agents, the analysts say.
The new “Medicare agent marketplace” could help consumers search for Medicare plan agents based on the agents’ qualifications and ratings, the analysts suggest.
The analysts have included those recommendations in a recent report on how agents and brokers influence consumers’ efforts to buy Medicare Advantage, Medicare supplement (Medigap) insurance and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan coverage.
The Commonwealth Fund is a New York-based focused on health care system policy issues. Its research helped lead to the creation of the current Affordable Care Act health insurance framework.
Medicare Agent Yardsticks
The Commonwealth Fund analysts tried to assess the quality of agents’ advice by looking at the product menus in some of the online tools that agents use to help clients choose plans.
The analysts compared the plan menus for three online services in five counties with the product listings on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ own Medicare.gov website.
Some agents and consumers have complained about Medicare.gov site design choices, such as how Medicare.gov provides information about the drugs specific plans cover.