NEW REPORT CALLS FOR BETTER COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION ON MEDICARE ADVANTAGE FOR SENIORS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 15, 2018
Washington, D.C. – Today, Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), the leading advocacy coalition for Medicare Advantage, released a report entitled: Improving Consumer Understanding of Medicare Advantage.
The report is a result of a convening meeting held in December 2017 that brought together about 50 thought leaders —including beneficiary advocates, health communication experts, researchers, health plans, practitioners, community partners, and policymakers —to discuss and develop recommendations for improving consumers’ understanding of Medicare coverage options, specifically, Medicare Advantage, the public-private managed care option under Medicare.
The report summarizes presentations from Dr. Jack Hoadley of Georgetown University, Dr. Virginia Brown of the University of Maryland, Dr. Bruce Landon of Harvard University, Joel White of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage and Howard Bedlin of the National Council on Aging on specific challenges and needs seniors have when making decisions on Medicare coverage.
“We must work to better educate and inform seniors on the choice they have in receiving their Medicare coverage. Many seniors are not well-informed about Medicare Advantage (Part C). It starts with better coordination between the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as people approach age 65 and continues through annual open enrollment,” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, BMA President and CEO.
The report captures themes of the conversations facilitated by Avalere Health, a health consultancy, among the convening attendees including addressing health literacy, modernizing technology to be more consumer-friendly, and improving outreach as well as materials on the option of Medicare Advantage.
The report follows several months of efforts by BMA to examine beneficiary understanding of Medicare Advantage, as well as existing tools available through Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Social Security Administration (SSA), including the Medicare & You Handbook and Medicare Plan Finder.
Last year, BMA released findings from a national survey of Medicare-eligible beneficiaries conducted by polling firm Morning Consult that found that 65 percent of seniors enrolled in Traditional Medicare are unfamiliar with Medicare Advantage. The survey also found that majority of Medicare-eligible seniors say they do not understand the difference between Medicare Advantage and other Medicare options, particularly in regard to out-of-pocket costs (44%) and services (42%).
“As the number of seniors aging into Medicare continues to grow, we hope to work with the Administration and other stakeholders to better ensure the Medicare-eligible population has the tools and information that will enable them make the best decisions for themselves. There has not been a concerted effort to educate seniors solely on Medicare Advantage – perhaps now is the time to consider this effort,” saidSchwartz.
Following the convening report, BMA has outlined the following next steps:
BETTER MEDICARE ALLIANCE FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS
· CMS and SSA should assess and update current materials to improve readability, offer visual illustrations of concepts to accommodate various health literacy levels, target outreach to provide more personalized support throughout the enrollment process and incorporating more innovative approaches to education and consumer assistance.
· CMS and stakeholders should examine current funding and resources to assess how to effectively improve consumer education and outreach.
· The current administration working with stakeholders should to conduct a robust education and outreach campaign on Medicare choices with specific attention to Medicare Advantage.
· Outreach and education must be improved to clearly convey that beneficiaries have to make an active choice between FFS Medicare and Medicare Advantage to avoid being automatically enrolled into FFS Medicare, which may not be the most appropriate coverage option for their health care needs.
· Congress should call for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess communications and outreach on Part C by CMS.
· The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) should update its 2008 assessment of the National Medicare Education Program and issue additional recommendations consistent with today’s standards
BMA plans to host an educational briefing on Capitol Hill on the report and beneficiary education on April 20th. Please visit http://bettermedicarealliance.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.