LESS THAN TWO-THIRDS OF DRUG PLAN ENROLLEES SATISFIED WITH MEDICARE PART D PLANS ACCORDING TO RATINGS ON MEDICAREDRUGPLANS.COM
-- Website Offers Guidance to Seniors as May 15 Deadline Nears --
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK – TUESDAY, MAY 2, 2006 –
Less than two-thirds (63%) of Medicare Part D plan enrollees report being satisfied with their plans, according to initial ratings collected on MedicareDrugPlans.com (www.MedicareDrugPlans.com), a new website that helps seniors evaluate and compare the new government-subsidized drug plans. When asked to evaluate specific aspects of their plans, satisfaction was highest with drug choice and drug cost – 75% were satisfied. But with customer service only 53% were satisfied -- in fact, 42% reported being highly dissatisfied with this aspect of the new drug plans. Written comments suggested that phone waiting times were a major source of frustration, with waits reported to be as long as several hours to reach a customer service representative.
Completely different experiences with the same plans were not uncommon. For example, one reviewer gave a Humana Complete plan the highest rating and wrote, “I have been extremely pleased with this plan. I signed up in November 2005 and had my card well before January 1, 2006. I have bought drugs from a local pharmacy and by mail order with no problems.” Of the same plan another reviewer gave the lowest rating and wrote, “if you like being lied to and kept on the line for five hours for the pleasure of being told that they are sorry, enroll with this company!”
Some seniors noted that that their plans enabled them to take medications that were previously unaffordable. One Medicare enrollee wrote, “I am a heart patient whose prescription costs (Plavix, Pravachol, Fosamax, etc.) were so high that I had to stop taking the medications. I enrolled in AARP [Medicare] RX Plan. All of my medications are covered at a very substantial savings and no hassle transactions.” But other enrollees have not found important drugs covered, such as a member in WPS Medicare Prescription Drug Plan who wrote, “This plan covers many drugs, however, if you are a cancer patient it is not a satisfying formulary. Two of the most commonly prescribed drugs (Tremodar) and anti-nausea (Zofran) are not on this plan. These are very expensive drugs and should be included in the formulary. When choosing a plan people should take a plan with Number covered on formulary at 100. WPS covers 98.”
Dr. Tod Cooperman, MD, president of MedicareDrugPlans.com commented, “These initial ratings help identify issues that seniors must consider when joining a plan. As long as plans do not reduce their benefits, satisfaction is likely to increase among these people as some switch at year-end to plans more appropriate to their individual needs.”
“However, the experience could be quite different among the twelve million people who have yet to join,” Dr. Cooperman added. “They are believed to use fewer drugs in general than the early enrollers and some may find themselves spending more with the plans than without them. They may also be less tolerant of formulary restrictions and service issues – although they will gain catastrophic drug coverage.”
“Whether joining a plan, switching plans, or dealing with plan-related issues, we encourage seniors to take advantage of the information on MedicareDrugPlans.com.”
MedicareDrugPlans.com is a free website that provides ratings, reviews, cost comparisons, and open discussions of Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. It is a division of PharmacyChecker.com, a privately held company that provides drug price comparisons and ratings of online pharmacies at www.pharmacychecker.com. PharmacyChecker.com has no ownership in or from companies that sell or distribute pharmacy products, pharmacy benefits, or health insurance.