Thursday, January 06, 2022

Beware of “not really legal” Medicare TV ads

In January, February, and March a person enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan can make a change. This time, called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP), is only available to an individual who for some reason is dissatisfied with their current MA plan.

If a person does not like some part of their MA plan they can change to another options with their current company or to a MA plan with another company or return to original Medicare. [Part A & Part B] If elect to go back to original Medicare they can sign up for a Medicare Supplement and a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan. (PDP)

Medicare's marketing rules say a MA company or a Medicare Health plan professional like myself cannot advertise this change period is available.  If someone calls and asks what can be done because they do not like such and such. I can then review options and sign them up for a better plan for their situation using the MA OEP.

So what about these TV ads saying - call today to see if you can get more benefits with a Medicare Part C plan? Medicare rules say:
+ Medicare Part C plans are MA and a person who does not have a MA plan cannot sign up in this period.
+ A person with a PDP and a Medicare Supplement can not make a change.

The ads are not from a MA company but a marketing organization who is stretching the rules and being deceptive. Medicare is confusing to many people so it is regretful these TV are being run because it just adds to the confusion.

Why aren't the rules enforced? Medicare's marketing rules say each MA company is responsible to monitor anyone appointed to market their plans to be sure they are following the rules. Who knows why they don't? Perhaps the MA Company thinks - the ad does not mention our company, so they say nothing.

John C Parker, RHU, LTCP
Niantic CT