There was one, now two companies, flooding cable TV with MediCare ads here in Southeastern CT. I see them on the Weather Channel,.
The focus of these deceptive ads is to encourage everyone who has Medicare – call right now to get all these better medicare benefits!
Why are the ads deceptive?
● Individuals on Medicare cannot get additional benefits directly from MediCare nor by buying a Medicare Supplement. Additional benefits are only available by signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, which normally is only done during MediCare’s Annual Election Period each Fall. It runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.
● Then too, some of the “you can get” benefits listed in the ad are just available in Special Needs Plans (SNP) and not available to everyone! More deception! Only individuals with certain medical conditions can qualify for a SNP!
● One benefit mentioned in the ad – rides to the MD – is only available in what is called a Dual Special Needs Plans (DSNP). Only individuals who qualify to be on Medicaid (welfare) can sign up for a DSNP.
● The former sports figures in the ads – saying I called and got these benefits – would never qualify for these special plans!
● To make matters worse – another company, whose name is sort of connected to the medical field, has an ad in Southeastern CT for a Medicare Supplement – but it is not approved in CT! More reason to beware!
MediCare considers a person “eligible” the month when 65. So yes, someone can sign up during the three months before 65, the month eligible, and in either of the three months after. MediCare calls this sign-up time an Individual’s Initial Election Period. However, the ads do not say – call if you will soon be 65.
I help individuals with MediCare’s complex sign up rules as a health insurance professional. I also help simplify and understand what I call Medicare Health Plans and when interested to sign up. MediCare's marketing rules to work with these plans are complex and get into what I can say and when I can talk about benefits. Thus, it’s frustrating when the restrictions I have to follow do not apply to companies creating TV ads!
Interested in learning more about the two types of – Medicare Health Plans? This page has information on the two types and times to sign up. It is from one of my web sites and may be helpful.
John C Parker, RHU, LTCP
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