- Recent Solicitation Scams Target Medicare-Eligible Adults
- Medicare Advantage Plans Pitch to People Turning 65
- CMS Releases Data re: Medicare and Medicaid
- Study: Medicare Beneficiaries with Dementia Died at Higher Rates During COVID-19 Pandemic
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A recent report in The Roanoke Times highlighted a growing vulnerability in the Medicare system – suspicious phone solicitations targeting potential beneficiaries as they prepare to sign up for Medicare. These calls specifically target Medicare-eligible adults and purportedly offer to assist them with Medicare options and the application process. While some calls may be from legitimate companies, there is no way to determine over the phone whether the caller is a con artist. Additionally, the risk in these situations is elevated since signing up requires an applicant to give the caller sensitive and personal information.
Other news articles over the past year have also highlighted the increasing emergence of phone and email solicitations targeting Medicare-eligible adults. Some examples include robocalls attempting to sell “Medicare covered genetic testing,” emails pretending to come from the individual’s employer claiming they need to review and confirm their benefits during Medicare Open Enrollment, or telemarketers falsely claiming to represent private insurance companies selling health insurance policies. Some of these scams mask their real numbers with the published customer service telephone numbers for major insurance companies so that they appear legitimate on caller ID.
The FCC and other authorities warn: don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately. Additionally, if you are unsure about whether an insurance plan is valid, contact your state insurance commissioner’s office or call the customer service number on the plan’s official website and speak with an official representative for that plan.
Giving out personal financial or identifying information to unsolicited calls exposes people to financial risk. Don’t do it – and remind others not to.
 Casey, D. (2022, March 8). CASEY: Beware of phone solicitors selling Medicare plans. Roanoke Times. https://roanoke.com/news/local/casey-beware-of-phone-solicitors-selling-medicare-plans/article_6e1d6792-9e66-11ec-92d9-bfcc189c06d4.html
 Shadel, B. D. (2021, August 5). “Becky From Medicare” Robocall Is Sweeping the Nation. AARP. https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2021/new-medicare-robocall.html
 Better Business Bureau. (2021, December 14). BBB Scam Alert: Beware of health care cons during open enrollment. BBB. https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/14295-bbb-warning-beware-medicare-and-aca-scams-during-open-enrollment
 Stop Unwanted Robocalls and Texts. (2022, March 7). Federal Communications Commission. https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/stop-unwanted-robocalls-and-texts
In “How Do Insurers Love Thee? Let Us Count the Medicare Advantage Pitch Mailings,” Barron’s reporter Neal Templin describes, as he turned 65, being “bombarded with letters for months” from Medicare Advantage (MA) Plans soliciting his business. Although Templin had already enrolled in original Medicare and bought a supplemental plan so that he could continue seeing his gastroenterologist, who does not participate in an MA plan available to him, he kept getting letters touting the benefits of MA. He even received a solicitation from the issuer of his Medigap policy to join their MA plan.
Insurance companies are eager to sell MA policies because MA is so profitable for them, Templin writes, linking to a story on NPR. Templin also spoke to an insurance broker in Maine who told him that he gets an initial-enrollment commission of $573 for each MA plan he sells, “nearly twice what he gets for selling a supplemental plan plus a drug plan” to beneficiaries who choose traditional Medicare. The broker insists he is not influenced by commissions and presents options to customers so that they can choose how to receive Medicare. Although 85-90% of his customers choose MA with zero premiums because of the lower cost, they call him when a medical expense is not covered, or costs more than they think it should. The Maine broker said he never hears from customers who choose traditional Medicare. The medical care they need is covered.
The Better Medicare Alliance, an organization representing MA plans, suggests that Medicare beneficiaries choose MA plans because of savings. Templin says he is sticking with traditional Medicare so that he “can go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare – which is pretty much everyone.”
Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the latest enrollment figures for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), reproduced below.
As of November 2021, 64.1 million people are enrolled in Medicare.
This is an increase of nearly 111,000 since the last report.
- 36.2 million are enrolled in Original Medicare.
- 28.0 million are enrolled in Medicare Advantage or other health plans. This includes enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans with and without prescription drug coverage.
- 49.1 million are enrolled in Medicare Part D. This includes enrollment in stand-alone prescription drug plans as well as Medicare Advantage plans that offer prescription drug coverage.
Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
As of September 2021, 84,828,543 of people are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. This is an increase of 1,213,766 since the last report.
- 77,879,760 are enrolled in Medicaid
- 6,948,783 are enrolled in CHIP
For more information on Medicaid/CHIP enrollment, including enrollment trends, see here.
*Over 11.8 million individuals are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, and are counted in the enrollment figures for both programs.
While the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, especially for those 65 and older, a new study published in JAMA Neurology concludes that Medicare enrollees suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) died at higher rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. The mortality rates were particularly high among nursing home residents and racial minorities with ADRD.
Researchers compared 2019 to 2020 mortality rates for Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and over. Mortality rates among beneficiaries overall were 12% higher in 2020, but for beneficiaries with ADRD, the death rates were 26% higher. In nursing homes during 2020, beneficiary mortality rates were 24% higher than they were in 2019, but residents with ADRD experienced a 33% increased death toll. Furthermore, the study found that racial minorities with ADRD had even higher death rates in 2020, at 36%, 36.7%, and 40.1% for Asian, Black, and Hispanic beneficiaries, respectively.
Due to the fact that elevated mortality rates were even documented in areas of the country with very low COVID-19 infection rates, researchers concluded that older adults with ADRD, “especially those in racial and ethnic minority groups and those living in nursing homes, may be particularly susceptible to changes in health care delivery and nursing home care during ‘lockdowns’ and other restrictions during the pandemic.” In a press release, lead author on the study Dr. Lauren Gilstrap, assistant professor at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, said, “I think our findings also highlight that as a healthcare system, we really do have to think about people with cognitive limitations differently, and that more creative solutions are needed to better serve this highly vulnerable segment of society.”
 CDC. Covid-19 Recommendations for Older Adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (August 4, 2021). Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/aging/covid19-guidance.html
 Gilstrap, L., Zhou, W., Alsan, M., Nanda, A., & Skinner, J. S. (2022). Trends in Mortality Rates Among Medicare Enrollees with Alzheimer Disease and Related Dementias Before and During the Early Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Neurology. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.0010
 GeiselMed. Geisel study finds higher death rates in older adults with cognitive impairment during the pandemic. EurekAlert! (February 28, 2022). Available at: https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/944897
REGISTER NOW! 2022 National Voices of Medicare Summit
Help Inspire the Future of Medicare
2022 National Voices of Medicare Summit
& Senator Jay Rockefeller Lecture
Wednesday, May 18, 2022 12:30 – 4:30 PM EDT
Medicare in Jeopardy – How Do We Save It?
A Special Virtual Event
Join us as we convene community leaders in advocacy, policymaking, medicine, philanthropy, and academia to discuss the best practices, solutions, and opportunities in efforts to advance access to comprehensive Medicare coverage, health equity, and quality health care. All of this is inspired by, and interspersed with, the real experiences and stories of beneficiaries and caretakers.
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We are pleased to offer sliding scale pricing for this year’s Summit to provide an affordable option for attendees. Please choose the registration price that is comfortable for you. The most important result for this special virtual event is that it is inclusive and we are able to share the program with as many members of the Center’s community as possible. Thank you for joining us!
FREE WEBINAR | Medicare Home Health and DME Update
Thursday, April 28, 2022 @ 1 – 2:30 PM EST
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Presented by Center for Medicare Advocacy Executive Director, attorney Judith Stein, and Associate Director, attorney Kathleen Holt, the presentation includes a 30-minute live question & answer session.
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