May 16, 2018

BMA Ally Letter to CMS on Medicare Advantage Beneficiary Education Campaign

Better Medicare Alliance is an alliance of more than 100+ organizations, including providers, professional associations, aging services organizations, health plans, and more than 300,000 aligned Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. Together we support and advocate for policies that ensure Medicare Advantage remains a strong and stable option within Medicare.

We appreciate the efforts made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) over the past year to improve the Medicare and You Handbook. We support efforts to continue to enhance the information and decision-making tools available to beneficiaries. We encourage the Administration to take further steps to better enable seniors to make informed decisions and become active choosers in their health coverage.

By modernizing the information and access to meaningful educational tools on Medicare options you will better empower Medicare beneficiaries to make educated choices about their health care, and thereby enable them to be smart shoppers regarding the health coverage options available to them.  We strongly believe that the federal government can and should be closing these gaps of knowledge and understanding about the Medicare program.

We recommend the following actions to improve materials and decision-making tools for beneficiaries:

  • CMS and the Social Security Administration (SSA) should update beneficiary educational materials to improve readability, offer visual illustrations of concepts to accommodate various health literacy levels, target outreach to provide more personalized support throughout the enrollment process, and incorporate innovative approaches to education and consumer assistance.
  • Improve how CMS and SSA work together to educate and conduct outreach to Medicare-eligible beneficiaries, particularly during initial Medicare enrollment, including linking information and use of similar language and decision-making tools.
  • Modernize Medicare Plan Finder, so seniors can easily compare Medicare Advantage to FFS options based on health needs, quality, cost and provider networks.
  • Ensure State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) have the resources and training they need to educate beneficiaries about both Medicare Fee For Service and Medicare Advantage.

As the Medicare population continues to expand and age, with over 10,000 baby-boomers aging into the program each day, and the population of those aged 80 and older nearly tripling between now and 2050, now is the time to modernize the Medicare enrollment process and tools consumers are using so they can make well-informed decisions about their Medicare coverage

We thank you for your interest in enhancing beneficiary education and outreach on Medicare options. We stand ready to work with you as a partner and a resource in continuing to improve consumer understanding of Medicare Advantage.

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