Providing Medicare Beneficiaries with Complete, Objective Information to Help Them Make the Best Enrollment Decision
The Center for Medicare Advocacy and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare partnered on an education and outreach project to support Medicare beneficiaries and those who assist them enroll and re-enroll in Medicare. The Medicare Fully Informed Project provides a variety of unbiased, accurate and comprehensive information about the full range of Medicare coverage options, and includes an array of tools to assist in making the best individual enrollment choices.
Making Medicare coverage decisions is a complex task with multiple personal factors that must be taken into account. Beneficiaries need help in understanding all their complex options including all the pros and cons of traditional Medicare and private Medicare Advantage. They need to make fully informed choices given their likely health needs, personal and financial circumstances, and possible cost-sharing assistance. Our organizations and other beneficiary advocates have been concerned about the objectivity of some Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) enrollment materials. We hope to help fill some of the gaps.
In preparing for this project, we polled over 2,000 members of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in August 2018 in order to better understand Medicare beneficiaries, their unique needs, Medicare choices, and how we can better serve them. The responses helped us identify knowledge gaps and develop the suite of materials developed for this project. Key survey results that informed this project include:
- 61% of respondents are in traditional Medicare
- 54% of respondents make enrollment decisions through on-line research
- Half of all respondents said they want more information about their enrollment choices
- 77% receive the annual Medicare & You handbook from CMS
- Less than half of respondents comparison shop between Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans
- Only 13% changed their Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plans in the last year
- 57% have one or more pre-existing health condition
- 57% are not aware of Medicare’s Extra-Help program
- Male respondents made up about 45%; female respondents comprised 54%
- 54% live in suburban areas while 25% live in rural areas and 20% in urban areas
The results of the poll confirm that Medicare beneficiaries need additional, objective tools and information to make informed decisions about their Medicare options. They are also a diverse group who often face significant barriers when switching between plans or navigating these complex programs.
The goal of the Medicare Fully Informed Project is to help by providing a variety of educational tools for beneficiaries, and those who help beneficiaries, make enrollment decisions. We hope these various formats will help beneficiaries make fully informed Medicare and related health care coverage decisions. Project materials updated for 2019 include the following:
- Medicare Advantage Brochure (2019)
- Self-help Document – Choosing Between MA and Traditional Medicare (2019)
- Decision Tree Infographic – Traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage (2019)
- New for 2019: One-Pager – Traditional Medicare versus Medicare Advantage
- New for 2019: Fact Sheet – Consumer Guide to MA Supplemental Benefits
- New for 2019: Issue Brief – Advocates Guide to MA Supplemental Benefits
- Medigap – Supplemental Insurance to Help with Cost-Sharing in Traditional Medicare (2019)
- Power Point Presentation: Choosing Between MA and Traditional Medicare (2019 – Depending on your settings, this will play in your browser or download for play)
The Center for Medicare Advocacy (https://www.medicareadvocacy.org), is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan law organization that provides education, advocacy and legal assistance to help older people and people with disabilities obtain access to Medicare and quality health care.
The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (https://www.ncpssm.org/), is a membership organization with the mission to protect, preserve, promote, and ensure the financial security, health, and the well being of current and future generations of maturing Americans.
Developed with support from the John A. Hartford Foundation