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CMS updates Web site to faciliate comparion of price, coverage, quality of prescription drug plans

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Medicare unveiled an updated Web site on Thursday that allows greater comparisons of price, coverage and quality, Kaiser Network reports.

The Web site ( allows beneficiaries to sort plans in their communities by factors such as annual costs, the amount of premiums and what kind of coverage the plans provide once beneficiaries have reached threshold (doughnut-hole) where their coverage is reduced.

Beneficiaries who do not have access to the Web may obtain the same information through Medicare’s hot line at (800) 633-4227.

Medicare uses a five-star rating system to compare plans based on measures such as access to care, quality of care and customer satisfaction.

The site allows beneficiaries to view data comparing the annual cost, premiums, co-payments and coverage in the “doughnut hole” in one chart. It also allows beneficiaries to sort the information by each of the various factors, such as which has the lowest monthly premium or which has the lowest estimated annual cost based on each person’s prescriptions.

Other changes include:

    • Adding a link to let beneficiaries learn which health-care providers are in each plan.
    • Allowing beneficiaries to estimate their out-of-pocket costs for plans in 2008 without having to enter specific drug information.
    • Allowing beneficiaries to continue enrolling for 2007 coverage through Nov. 30.
    • The open enrollment period for 2008 begins Nov. 15 and ends Dec. 31.

With the exception of certain low-income beneficiaries who were automatically enrolled in plans by Medicare, people who currently are enrolled in a plan would remain in that plan next year unless they specifically enroll in a different plan.

Some low-income beneficiaries may be shifted to plans with lower premiums than Medicare currently pays for them, acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems said. Those beneficiaries could still shift to a different plan. Beneficiaries who may be eligible for low-income assistance may obtain more information on the Web at

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