If you’ve seen suspicious Medicare ads lately, you’re not alone: The federal government has been frowning at them too.
And now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services — the agency that oversees the Medicare program — is stepping in to stop dubious marketing and pressure tactics. In a recent memo announcing the policy change, Kathryn Coleman, director of the Medicare Drug & Health Plan Contract Administration Group within CMS, says:
“We have reviewed thousands of complaints and hundreds of audio calls and have identified numerous issues with information provided to beneficiaries that is confusing, misleading and/or inaccurate.”
Because of this, CMS says it will begin requiring preapproval for all TV ads for Medicare Advantage plans on Jan. 1, 2023. Existing ads that do not meet federal guidelines must stop airing or the ad-buying organization “may be subject to compliance action.”
Medicare Advantage is one of the two main types of Medicare and is offered by private insurers. The other type, known as Original Medicare or traditional Medicare, offers benefits directly from the federal government.
The nonprofit Medicare Rights Center has a list of things Medicare Advantage organizations, brokers and agents are not allowed to say or do in their marketing efforts, including:
- Call you or visit you without permission.
- Ask for your financial or personal information.
- Offer valuable prizes specifically to incentivize enrollment.
- Pretend or suggest that their plan is preferred or endorsed by the Medicare program.
- Claim you can always switch back to Original Medicare without explaining limited enrollment periods.
- Misconstrue Medicare-covered services as additional benefits.
If you’ve faced any of these tactics or other suspected Medicare marketing fraud, you can report it to 1-800-MEDICARE.