Devil’s In the Details
It’s that time of the year for Grazer, the winner of the 2023 Fat Bear Week and the other bears at Katmai National Park and Preserve, to hibernate. For those of us who have watched TV this month, we too know exactly what time of the year it is – time for the annual Medicare open enrollment.
Advertising kicked off on October 1st for the 2024 Medicare open enrollment period that runs from October 15 – December 7, 2023. If this year is similar to 2022, there will be nearly 650,000 TV ads and more than 9,500 commercials every day during this time. Medicare plans are also advertised on radio, social media as well as direct mailings and telemarketing calls.
According to a KFF report, over 86 percent of the approximately 650,000 Medicare TV ads during the 2023 open enrollment period (October 1 – December 7, 2022) were for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. Celebrities like Joe Namath, tout the zero or low premium, and extra benefits, like dental and vision, of MA plans. The ads encourage Medicare beneficiaries to call the toll free “Medicare” hotline right away to sign-up so as to not miss out on the extra benefits.
KFF reports that TV ads for Medigap, stand-alone Part D prescription, multiple plan types or general open enrollment information represented around 14 percent of the commercials during the open enrollment period.
Bait & Switch?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), state insurance regulators and other organizations have seen an increase in Medicare beneficiary complaints about misleading and confusing advertising for MA and Part D plans. Seniors who enrolled in these plans found limitations that were not mentioned in the ads, such as a limited provider network or prior-authorization requirements. Some seniors experienced higher out-of-pocket costs due to their doctor(s) not being in the MA plan’s network. Other complaints stemmed from not understanding the differences between a MA plan and traditional Medicare.
CMS recently issued new rules aimed at addressing concerns with the marketing practices of MA and Part D plans. Starting this year, TV ads must receive CMS approval before being aired. CMS rejected more than 300 MA TV ads because the agency found the commercials misleading.
Since humans do not get to hibernate like Grazer, dive into the articles in Buyer Beware for more on Medicare open enrollment landscape!
- News Break: current healthcare news, including GoodRx offers $35 insulin, CVS pulls some OTC cold meds, and Paxlovid cost.
- Buyer Beware: navigating Medicare open enrollment.
- Bad Apples: red dye, red meat and toddler’s milk.
- Back in the Day: including my personal favorite, We Used to Look Older!
Back In the Day
Enjoy the weekend!
Suzanne Daniels, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 1416
Birmingham, MI 48012
Office: (248) 792-2187
Email: [email protected]