Health insurance industry representatives say a recent New York Times account of aggressive Medicare Advantage marketing tactics describes the activities of a few bad apples.
“The vast majority of health insurance producers work very hard to find quality and appropriate health coverage at the best possible price for millions of employers, individuals and families every day,” says Kelly Loussedes, a vice president at the National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, Va.
“It is unfair to label all agents selling Medicare Advantage plans as dishonest because of the outrageous behavior of a few unethical individuals,” Loussedes says.
The Medicare Advantage program is best known for offering older Americans and disabled Americans access to health maintenance organization plan options from private carriers, and it also has added access to private preferred provider plan and private fee-for-service plan options.
The Times article, which ran on the front page of the newspaper May 7, says at least 6 states are investigating reports of agents pressuring elderly Americans into buying unsuitable Medicare Advantage policies.
The “abusive sales tactics are particularly egregious” in the Medicare Advantage private FFS plan market, the Times reports.
The Medicare Advantage program is growing because the extra benefits program plans provide are very attractive to seniors living on fixed incomes, Loussedes says.
Loussedes and Mohit Ghose, a vice president at America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, says their groups have worked with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to address concerns about Medicare plan marketing by developing a 4-part training program for brokers and agents.