Medicare needs better handle on inappropriate marketing, GAO finds

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 1, 2010

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A report released in December 2009 by the Government Accountability Office concludes that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has limited information about the number of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries who have experienced inappropriate marketing by the private plans in the program.

CMS has helped beneficiaries encountering problems by providing special election periods during which they can disenroll from their Advantage plan and enroll in new coverage without waiting for the twice-yearly regular enrollment periods. But some beneficiaries have experienced financial or access-to-care problems as a result of inappropriate marketing that could not be addressed by a special election period, the report said.

CMS concurred with the GAO's recommendation that it gather more information on the extent of inappropriate marketing.

Medicare officials also said they plan to reinstitute a survey they last conducted in 2005 that collected information on beneficiaries' reasons for disenrollment. The survey is planned for late summer 2010.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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