Efforts To Stop Deceptive Marketing Practices For Medicare Advantage Plans

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Medicare Advantage Plans

The New York Times on Monday examined deceptive orfraudulent practices used by insurance agents to enroll older U.S. residentsin Medicare Advantage plans. In an effort to stop deceptive practices, the Bushadministration has instructed insurers to "monitor their agents moreclosely, several companies have been fined, and the government sends 'secretshoppers' to some advertised sales events to check the accuracy of agents'statements," according to the Times. Acting CMSAdministrator Kerry Weems said, "There are substantially fewer violations,and those violations are of substantially lower severity than in previousmarketing periods."

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However, insurance experts say that the "extent of the problem almostsurely exceeds official data because many victims never file complaints orreport their experiences," the Times reports."Compounding the problem, many agents sell Medicare Advantage plans fortwo or more insurance companies, and some work for independent marketingorganizations, so the lines of responsibilities may be blurred," accordingto the Times.

In addition, the Times notes that although states "licenseinsurance agents ... they have a limited ability to regulate the privateMedicare plans." L. Darriel Pulliam -- an insurance agent in Columbus, Miss.-- said, "Medicare has a pile of new rules, but the rules are not making aheck of a lot of difference" (Pear, New York Times, 12/17).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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