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An Illustrative Analysis of Medicare Options Compare: What's There and What's Not?

This Insight on the Issues assesses Medicare Options Compare, a web site maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to help beneficiaries choose among available Medicare Advantage plans. The findings are mixed. On the one hand, the site helps beneficiaries identify the health plan choices specifically available in their zip code and provides them with an extensive amount of information on these choices. On the other hand, it is likely that beneficiaries could have trouble interpreting or be misled by some of the information. In particular, beneficiaries who have not been able to narrow down the choices before consulting Medicare Options Compare may find it difficult to do so via the web site. Though the site limitations partly reflect the complexity of the program, CMS could enhance the usefulness of the site by restructuring some of the information to better support beneficiary choice. (16 pages)