Better Medicare Alliance Responds to Sen. Ron Wyden’s Letter to State Insurance Commissioners
BMA’s Donahue points to rigorous existing regulations of health plans’ marketing materials, highlights Medicare Advantage’s near-universal consumer satisfaction ratings
Washington, D.C. – Better Medicare Alliance, the nation’s leading research and advocacy organization supporting Medicare Advantage, responded to a recent letter from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) to 15 state insurance commissioners seeking information about Medicare Advantage plans’ marketing practices.
“Medicare Advantage plans’ marketing materials are already subject to careful regulation: they must be approved by CMS and are answerable to more than 50 pages of federal guidelines. With a 94% consumer satisfaction rate, it is clear that this program consistently lives up to its promise for seniors,” said Mary Beth Donahue, President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance. “Today, more than 29 million Americans have made an active choice for themselves to enroll in Medicare Advantage and surveys show that nearly 9 in 10 beneficiaries would recommend Medicare Advantage to family and friends. A full accounting of the facts will show what seniors have been telling us all along: Medicare Advantage, with its lower costs, added benefits, and improved health outcomes, delivers a better consumer experience that deserves continued support and protection.”
Donahue continued, “Policymakers must take action to modernize Medicare enrollment in ways that offer more transparency in coverage choices and empower consumers, rather than criticizing those standing in the gap to help beneficiaries navigate this difficult and complicated process.”
- 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
- 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 support for additional safeguards on marketing practices in 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.
- In the absence of legislative and regulatory action to modernize the Medicare enrollment process, health plans and other entities are forced to act on their own to help consumers through this enrollment maze.