U.S. Senate Looks into Marketing Tactics Used to Sell Private Medicare Plans

By Consumers for Quality Care, on November 9, 2022

U.S. Senate Looks into Marketing Tactics Used to Sell Private Medicare Plans

In a report released by the Senate Finance Committee Democrats, lawmakers spotlight deceptive practices used by marketing firms to sell private Medicare plans, according to The New York Times.

The committee investigation revealed that marketing firms preyed on the elderly, sometimes even on those with dementia and cognitive impairment, posing as the Internal Revenue Service or other government agency, misleading consumers, and even enrolling individuals in plans without them realizing it.

Deceptive marketing of some Medicare Advantage plans has resulted in consumers already enrolled in traditional Medicare or in a private plan being inappropriately switched to a plan that costs more, offers fewer benefits, or both.

“It is unacceptable for this magnitude of fraudsters and scam artists to be running amok in Medicare, and I will be working closely with (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) to ensure this dramatic increase in marketing complaints is addressed,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). “Medicare Advantage offers valuable plan options and extra benefits to many seniors but it is critical to stop any tactics or actors that harm seniors or undermine their confidence in the program.”

The committee report catalogs complaints from 14 states. Starting next year, Medicare will begin to crack down on marketing firms that deploy these practices and police marketing materials more closely.

Medicare Advantage plans are important to people, as they can offer many additional benefits not found in traditional Medicare. However, these plans must be marketed accordingly as to not deceive consumers, especially vulnerable elderly populations. CQC applauds the efforts of Senator Wyden and CMS in calling attention to marketing firms that use these deceptive practices.