Weems Participates In Program Monitoring Medicare Advantage Plan Marketing

Armen Hareyan's picture

Medicare Advantage Plan


As part of a CMS initiative to investigate the sales tactics of insurance agents marketing MedicareAdvantage plans to seniors, acting agency Administrator Kerry Weems onWednesday attended a promotional presentation for an MA plan as a"secret shopper," the AP/Contra Costa Timesreports. Weems posed as a customer seeking information on behalf of hismother. Participants in the agency's secret shopper program, whichincludes private contractors as well as CMS staff, this year haveattended 119 presentations conducted by 56 participating agents.

Earlier this year, congressional hearingsshowed that while many seniors are pleased with their benefits under MAplans, marketing abuses have occurred in some cases. In response to theincreasing pressure from advocacy groups and lawmakers, CMS enactedseveral changes to marketing and sales practices, according to the AP/Times.Agents must call beneficiaries who have enrolled in certain plans toensure that they understand the terms of the coverage. Agents also haveto pass a written exam indicating they understand Medicare policies,and they must inform CMS officials about scheduled sales and marketingpresentations and events.

Weems said the oversight initiativein recent months has indicated that the number and extent of problemswith MA plan marketing have declined. He said of the secret shopperprogram, "It's a serious effort. It's not a game of gotcha, and it'snot a publicity stunt" (Freking, AP/Contra Costa Times, 11/27).

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