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These Marketers Are in State Insurance Regulators’ Doghouse

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What You Need to Know

  • Louisiana regulators are seeing a wave of Medicare cold calling.
  • They say the callers try to refer Medicare beneficiaries to health insurance agents.
  • Bonnie Burns said some of the telemarketing organizations may be based outside the United States.

State insurance regulators may be about to take a hard look at companies that use telemarketing operations to generate Medicare plan leads.

Ron Henderson, a regulator from Louisiana, talked about the issue at a recent online meeting of the Senior Issues Task Force, according to draft meeting minutes posted on the task force section of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website.

The task force is part of the association.

Henderson is Louisiana’s deputy commissioner of consumer advocacy. He said that Medicare enrollees in Louisiana, including his own mother, have been getting many cold calls from people who are not health insurance agents themselves, but who refer enrollees to agents.

Henderson complained that the marketers and agents switch enrollees into plans that are not necessarily better than the old plans and that, in some cases, are worse.

The Louisiana Department of Insurance has been working with the State Health Insurance Assistance Program to return the affected people to their original plans, Henderson reported.

Martin Swanson, a regulator from Nebraska, said the regulators on the NAIC Anti-Fraud Task Force are having private monthly meetings concerning improper marketing of health plans.

Bonnie Burns of California Health Advocates said patient advocacy groups work with the federal government to prosecute the Medicare plan telemarketing organizations, “presuming they are not out of the country.”

She suggested that a patient advocacy group could brief the Anti-Fraud Task Force on what advocates are seeing out in the field.

(Photo: Erik Snyder/Shutterstock)