Medicare says it has fixed a problem discovered Tuesday that caused incorrect prices for two drug plans to show up on the government Web site used by beneficiaries to choose among competing private plans.
Other problems discovered since the Web site became available in mid-November had earlier been resolved, says Medicare spokesman Gary Karr, including a mix-up that listed prices for Humana plans incorrectly for about a week.
Tuesday's Web site fix affected plans offered by UniCare and CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield. The website incorrectly listed monthly co-payments for their drugs, leading the plans to look more expensive than they actually are. The UniCare plan dropped the most -- $1,296 a year -- after the fix.
Despite the fixes, patient advocates fear some seniors may have chosen plans based on incorrect data. "CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has been incredibly responsive in trying to fix problems, but there is a question about what happens to seniors who have chosen a plan based on faulty information," says Tricia Neuman of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan research group. "How would they know?"
They would know only if they checked the Web site for updates, called the 1-800-Medicare number or the plan itself. On Tuesday, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., wrote Medicare officials saying the Web site needs to warn users that - even aside from computer glitches - cost estimates can change weekly as insurers update their offerings.
Medicare spokesman Karr says the "Web site is pretty clear that these are estimates."
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