The Commonwealth Fund recently released an explainer delving into the role Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D marketing has on people with Medicare. This explainer comes as MA marketing has attracted more scrutiny because of complaints about misleading practices and as federal agencies have begun looking more closely at how MA products are sold.
Marketing information overshadows objective information, according to the explainer. When people look for Medicare information online, one out of three results—and 87% of search engine ads—will be Medicare agents, brokers, and insurers. These entities have a personal stake in steering people with Medicare toward their products.
This surge in advertising coincides with a surge in MA plan offerings—the average beneficiary has 43 plans to choose from for 2023. An abundance of choice makes shopping for a plan harder, and many people with Medicare already do not review or change plans each year, even when it makes financial sense.
The explainer shows that few beneficiaries base their decision on advertising, at least knowingly. However, around one in three used insurance agents or brokers to choose a plan rather than an objective source like the federal government or their State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
The Commonwealth Fund flags that marketing abuses and misinformation are on the rise in other forms of insurance as well and that more data and resources are needed to help ensure that people receive the right information to help them make informed choices that fit their coverage needs.