October 26, 2007
The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) has posted a report titled "Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan Sponsor Internet Web Sites: Content and Accessibility." The OIG's report, based on its examination of the websites of all Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) Sponsors offering plans in 2007, concluded that deficiencies in the information contained in, and the accessibility of, many of the PDP Sponsors' websites "could affect access to content by Medicare beneficiaries."
As the report noted, PDP Sponsors are required to include certain content on their websites, such as their service area, benefit and formulary information, quality assurance policies and procedures. PDP Sponsors must also ensure that certain accessibility requirements are met so that individuals with disabilities have comparable access to information about PDPs.
The OIG reviewed the websites of the eighty-four PDP Sponsors offering drug plans in the fifty states and the District of Columbia, and determined:
- 33% (or twenty-eight PDPs total) of the PDP Sponsors' websites did not contain all federally required content. Additionally, these twenty-eight plans serve 39% of the PDP enrollees. The information most commonly missing includes enrollee disenrollment rights and responsibilities, the potential for PDP contract termination, and formulary information.
- 85% (or 71 PDPs total) of the PDP Sponsors' websites did not meet at least one of the four accessibility requirements reviewed by the OIG.
The OIG did not provide any recommendations based on its findings. However, OIG believes that it is important that CMS oversee these websites to ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries, including beneficiaries with disabilities, have comparable access to federally required content to make informed decisions about their prescription drug coverage.
The OIG's Report is available on the OIG's website.
We would like to thank Christine L. Pfeiffer, Esquire (HealthPlus of Michigan Inc., Flint, MI) for providing this email alert. We would also like to acknowledge Ms. Pfeiffer for providing an email alert entitled "OIG Posts Report on Fraud and Abuse Safeguards for Medicare Drugs Plans in 2006," published on October 15, 2007, where her contribution was erroneously omitted.