Washington, D.C. – Better Medicare Alliance (BMA) President and CEO Allyson Y. Schwartz released the following statement in response to the new 2019 Medicare and You Handbook released by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):
“By September 30th, 45 million households across the country will receive the 2019 Medicare and You Handbook that has been redesigned by CMS to better communicate Medicare choices.The new handbook includes important changes that offer information on Medicare Advantage in ways that are clear and easy to understand. The new handbook continues the progress made by CMS to better ensure that beneficiaries have necessary information on the two choices they have to receive their benefits, either through Traditional Fee-for-Service Medicare or Medicare Advantage’s integrated, managed care system.
“According to a recent national survey, about 24% of Medicare-eligible seniors use the Medicare and You Handbook to navigate Medicare choices. Over the past year and half, Better Medicare Alliance submitted feedback regarding the Medicare and You Handbook thanks to expertise from Medicare advocates, health communication and policy experts, as well as input from Medicare beneficiaries themselves.
“Our recommendations included better explanation of the initial choice between Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage using easy to understand charts and infographics, and placing this information towards the beginning of the handbook. The new handbook also does a better job of explaining that Medicare Advantage is a bundled approach that includes Part A, Part B, and Part D benefits together, delivered by integrated care systems, in contrast to Traditional Medicare that requires beneficiaries to separately purchase Part A, B and D, and additional private policies to supplement coverage.
“Further, the new handbook explains more clearly that unlike Traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans have an annual out-of-pocket limit for Part A and B services. This is particularly important because research shows that most seniors (56%) on Medicare are unaware of this financial protection, even though out-of-pocket costs are an important decision-making factor.
“While there is still much to be done to improve communication, education and outreach regarding Medicare choices, particularly on Medicare Advantage, the 2019 Medicare and You Handbook is significant progress.”