Medicare Advantage sign-up dirty tricks

On the listserv of the Association of Health Care Journalists, a journalist raises an important issue that we don’t hear enough about. That journalist wrote:

“May I suggest that while Washington is obsessing about Walter Reed, the rest of us should be paying attention to what’s happening in our back yards in the run-up to the deadline for switching Medicare Advantage plans? In many areas, plans have contracted with independent brokers/agents to make a last push to persuade beneficiaries to switch plans. Many broker/agents who signed beneficiaries up for one plan in the fall (to begin Jan. 1) are now urging them to switch before the deadline; that way, they collect commissions twice. There’s a lot of misinformation being spread, a lot of dirty tricks. By the time we get around to reporting on it, the March 31 deadline will have passed and the misinformation campaigns will have been successful.”

Have you heard anything about this from your news organizations in your market?

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March 20, 2007 at 10:29 am

Almost all of the MA patients presenting at my hospital believe they have been sold a supplemental plan similar to AARP. In other words, the patients are not being told that they are giving up their traditional Medicare.
Moreover, none of them seem to have been told that, if they don’t go back to traditional Medicare before March 31, they are stuck with their MA plan until the end of the year.
This is a huge disservice to the Medicare population and to the providers, who are often not notified of the switch to MA until they receive a denied claim form traditional Medicare.
A few words about all of this in the news media would constitute a real public service.