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Medicare Blog | Medicare News | Medicare Information

Medicare Encouraging Seniors in Low Rated Plans to Switch

Posted by Lauren Hidalgo on Fri, Nov 09, 2012 @ 10:37 AM

Medicare Supplements Medicare officials have begun sending letters trying to nudge seniors out of the 26 medical and private drug plans that have performed with either a "poor" or "below average" rating from CMS in the last three years. The letter reads, "We encourage you to compare this plan to other options in your area and decide if it is still the right choice for you." Approximately 375,000 Medicare Advantage and 150,000 drug plan members have received this notice.

This is the first time Medicare officials have made an effort to warn beneficiaries about their medical and private drug plans while still allowing the companies to remain operational. They are, however, encouraging people to sign up with different companies other than the 26 plans falling "below average." On Medicare’s finder website those plans are not only marked with a warning sign but are not available to sign up electronically and force the senior to contact the insurance company directly in order to sign up for the plan. Also, in the future, some of these plans may be canceled if their company continues to perform below standards.

Isabella Leung, a Medicare spokeswoman said "We want to make it easy for beneficiaries to find and select the highest quality plans, and discourage people from staying in chronically low-performing plans." However, Robert Zirkelback, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, argues that the letter to beneficiaries is premature because the rating system is flawed. He sites that the rating does not take into account plans serving a disproportionate number of seniors who have chronic illness or special needs or who live in otherwise medically underserved areas. He urges, "It’s important to make sure we get the measures right before we move on to these other steps."

Medicare officials understand that some seniors will simply ignore the warning, especially if they are satisfied with their plan, or if the price aligns with their income and their network of doctors. Leslie Fried, director for policy and programs at the National Council on Aging sums up, "If people are satisfied with their plan and it is currently contracted with CMS, isn’t that a decision they should be allowed to make?"


Please give us your feedback!
Do you think it’s the government’s responsibility to let your clients know about the low ratings? Do you feel it will negatively or positively impact your business?

 

Source: Kaiser Health News

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