The federal government is continuing its efforts to protect older Americans signing up for Medicare coverage for the first time or switching to a new health plan during open enrollment.
Among the enhancements included in a proposed regulation that could go into effect in 2024, commissions for insurance agents and brokers who enroll beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, the private insurance alternative to original Medicare, would be standardized. This move is designed to deter agents and brokers from pushing beneficiaries toward those MA plans that pay higher commissions.
The role brokers and agents play in helping enrollees decide what Medicare plans to sign up for is key, especially during the annual open enrollment period, which runs Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has made several moves this year to try to make sure consumers are getting accurate and fair advice.
Medicare cracks down on misleading TV ads
Already in 2023, CMS announced a crackdown on misleading advertising. The agency reviewed 2,323 television ads between May 1 and Oct. 23. According to CMS, it refused to approve 22 percent — or 521 — of the ads.
Anyone regularly watching broadcast or cable TV will have noticed that this year some of the celebrities who in past open enrollment periods have flooded the airwaves, including former Star Trek star William Shatner and comedian Jimmy Walker, are virtually nonexistent. Ex-NFL quarterback Joe Namath has still appeared in some spots, but his pitch is considerably toned down.
“By prohibiting certain TV ads, cracking down on predatory marketing practices, and putting into place new requirements for plans, agents and brokers, and third-party marketing organizations, among other efforts, we can ensure people have the information needed to make the best health care choice to meet their needs,” Meena Seshamani, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare, says in an emailed statement.