Monday, September 29, 2008

A Problem With Ads for Private Medicare Plans

Seniors can sign up for new Medicare prescription drug plans starting November 15, but they should be wary of TV and print ads aimed at influencing their choice starting now. The Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed ads that ran last year around the open enrollment period and found that—surprise!—insurers didn't always give seniors the plan details they needed to make the best choice. The foundation also found that insurers placed three times as many ads promoting Medicare Advantage (MA) managed-care plans that include drug coverage along with medical benefits as they did standalone drug plans that accompany traditional Medicare. As I've reported before, insurers get reimbursed at higher rates for beneficiaries in MA plans than for those using traditional Medicare, so it's not surprising insurers would try to encourage seniors to sign up for them.

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