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.”
March 17, 2022 – T. Edelman