New Report Shows Private Insurers’ Marketing Materials Misinforming Seniors

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans, Friday Alert, September 5, 2008

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) commented on Thursday about a new and alarming report from the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services that indicates 85% of “marketing” materials presented to American seniors by private insurers selling Medicare benefits do not meet standards set forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Sen. Baucus, who has held hearings in the Committee on unscrupulous marketing to seniors by private plans, said action must be taken to improve service to seniors now. The full report is online. “This report reveals a near-total failure by CMS, where officials have insisted that they can regulate the marketing of plans to seniors as well as or better than experienced state insurance agencies. The evidence now shows that’s not the case,” said Sen. Baucus. “It’s unconscionable that CMS has let the insurance industry’s materials – including essential items like pharmacy directories and summaries of benefits – fail to properly inform seniors 85 percent of the time…and you’d better believe the Finance Committee will move to make sure seniors get better service one way or the other,” he continued. The senator’s own Medicare improvement bill, enacted into law this year, contained prohibitions on unscrupulous marketing practices by private plans, including unannounced visits and cold calls by plan agents.

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