Empowering Seniors to Choose: The Facts About Medicare Advantage Marketing Communications
By Greg Gierer, MPP
During Medicare’s upcoming open enrollment period, which begins on October 15, seniors will have the opportunity to choose between the coverage options available to them.
More than 29 million seniors and individuals with disabilities have now made an active choice for enrollment in Medicare Advantage. Our 2022 State of Medicare Advantage report shows that the number of seniors choosing a Medicare Advantage plan has doubled over the past ten years, a figure driven by Medicare Advantage’s significant cost savings, better health outcomes and high overall satisfaction.
Better Medicare Alliance is proud to include many Ally organizations that may share information related to Medicare options with seniors – from health care providers and area agencies on aging, to licensed agents and brokers and health plans. Most importantly, we are committed to ensuring that every senior receives clear, accurate information about their Medicare options so that they are empowered to be active choosers in their health coverage.
That’s why Better Medicare Alliance supported the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) recent reforms related to third-party marketing organizations (TPMOs). TPMOs, which are different from health coverage providers directly marketing their plans, can provide a valuable service in helping seniors to understand their benefit options. CMS’s new marketing and disclosure requirements help seniors approach Medicare enrollment with greater peace of mind.
Better Medicare Alliance welcomes these reforms by CMS so that seniors can feel confident in understanding their coverage options, including the proven record of Medicare Advantage in lowering costs, enhancing benefits, and improving health outcomes for more than 29 million overwhelmingly satisfied seniors and individuals with disabilities.
Interested in additional background on Medicare Advantage?
- By every measure, Medicare Advantage maintains near-universal beneficiary satisfaction
- A December 2021 Morning Consult poll shows a 94% Medicare Advantage consumer satisfaction rate
- A May 2022 eHealth survey of more than 2,800 Medicare Advantage beneficiaries shows satisfaction from 9 in 10 enrollees (88%) while only 6% express dissatisfaction with their Medicare Advantage plan. The same survey found that 86% of Medicare Advantage enrollees would recommend it to family and friends in need of Medicare coverage, while only 3% would not recommend it.
- An April 2022 analysis of Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) data conducted by ATI Advisory found that 94.9% of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are satisfied with their health care quality, while 95.6% are satisfied with their ease of getting to doctors.
- The J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Medicare Advantage Study found that overall member satisfaction with Medicare Advantage increased 3 points from 2021 and has risen 15 points during the past five years.
- Enrollment in Medicare Advantage is an active choice
- Beneficiaries who do not make an active decision at enrollment time default into FFS Medicare.
- It remains illegal to enroll a beneficiary in Medicare Advantage without their knowledge or consent.
- Many seniors still do not know that the option of Medicare Advantage exists
- A December 2021 Morning Consult poll found that nearly half (47%) of seniors on Medicare were not familiar with the option of Medicare Advantage upon turning 65. Similarly, 48% of seniors on Medicare also say they would have liked to know more about the option of Medicare Advantage when they first enrolled in Medicare.
- A May 2022 eHealth survey of more than 2,800 Medicare Advantage beneficiaries shows that only 6% of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries first learned of the option of Medicare Advantage from government sources.
- Medicare Advantage plans’ marketing communications are heavily regulated and subject to CMS approval; a process that is governed separately from TPMOs’ marketing communications
- Medicare Advantage plans must follow a more-than-50-page list of federal guidelines for all marketing materials.
- Health plans’ marketing communications must be filed with and approved by CMS.
- Better Medicare Alliance expressed strong support for additional safeguards on TPMOs’ marketing practices in its comment letter on CMS’s 2023 Medicare Advantage proposed rule.
- Nearly two years ago, Better Medicare Alliance laid out a roadmap to modernize the Medicare enrollment process
- Better Medicare Alliance delivered a report in October 2020 outlining recommendations to streamline the Medicare enrollment process in ways that empower consumers to better understand and compare coverage options.
- The five-pronged plan calls for shifting Medicare’s enrollment responsibilities from the Social Security Administration to the Department of Health and Human Services while also standardizing and modernizing educational materials for beneficiaries, redesigning the notice of Medicare benefits, initiating earlier beneficiary engagement, and continuing to improve filters and search criteria within Medicare Plan Finder.
Greg Gierer, MPP is the Vice President of Policy and Research for the Better Medicare Alliance.