Elderly Medicare Recipients Warned to Resist Aggressive Marketing
Medicare and Private Insurers
Medicare recipients - particularly senior citizens - and their families are urged to be aware that some health insurance companies are employing aggressive marketing tactics to sell Medicare Advantage products which may mislead consumers. According to the Department's respected Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), many Medicare beneficiaries are receiving bad financial advice leading them to make decisions which are not in their best interest.
Medicare Advantage plans include HMO, PPO, Medicare Medical Savings Accounts and Private- Fee-for-Service products. Recent Medicare reform laws have resulted in an explosion of these products hitting the North Carolina market, with now more than 10 companies offering some type of Medicare Advantage plan. With this much competition, Long says, companies are fighting for business. "If the number of complaints fielded by SHIIP staff is any indication, some of these companies have resorted to using questionable tactics to win customers," he warned.
Senior citizens are particularly at risk, SHIIP officials believe. Complaints about aggressive marketing tactics range from insurance agents soliciting seniors at discount stores to "cold calls" by agents wishing to set up sales appointments in homes. The complaints have included incidents of agents advising the seniors on financial decisions, such as canceling other insurance policies, which may not have been in the best interest of the client. Commissioner Long and the staff at SHIIP are extremely concerned that this type of solicitation may lead citizens to make poor decisions that could negatively affect their insurance coverage.