This week the feds launched two new tools on the Medicare Web site to help beneficiaries select prescription drug plans. The tools are supposed to help seniors compare deductibles, copayments and monthly premiums available under each prescription drug plan. Medicare administrator Mark McClellan says, "Right now (the Web site's) main use is for training and familiarity purposes for those who work with beneficiaries. It's not yet time to use the tool to make your decision."
Sounds like that's an understatement. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that some consumer advocates who tested the tools said that they were difficult to use. Volunteers at Senior Action Network in San Francisco said that the tools will confuse seniors who are not familiar with the Internet or computers. Gail Shearer, a policy analyst at Consumers Union, told the New York Times, "It's tough to use, even for advocates." Bill Vaughn, also a policy analyst with Consumers Union, told the Miami Herald, "All of the different volunteers need to roll up their sleeves and get ready for some massive education."