Many of the 65 million beneficiaries who obtain medical health insurance protection throughout the federal Medicare program are enrolled in some type of personal plan. In 2023, 31 million Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Merit (Medicare Section C) plans administered through personal well being insurers. The opposite 34 million beneficiaries are in conventional Medicare, together with 22 million beneficiaries who’re enrolled in a Medicare Section D prescription drug plan presented through personal sponsors, and greater than 14 million who’ve Medicare supplemental insurance coverage (Medigap) presented through personal insurers (conventional Medicare beneficiaries is also enrolled in a Section D plan, a Medigap plan, or each).
Personal plan choices have grown in recent times, maximum significantly within the Medicare Merit marketplace. Extra Medicare Merit plans are available in 2023 than in any prior yr. Medicare Merit enrollment has doubled since 2010, due partly to in depth marketing efforts and the draw of extra benefits and attractive cost features. Each and every yr, starting on October 1st, insurers, in addition to agents and different third-party entities, are approved to start out advertising and marketing Medicare Merit for the yearly open enrollment length for protection within the following yr. The open enrollment length for Medicare Merit and Medicare Section D plans runs from October 15th thru December 7th. Tv advertisements are one of the advertising and marketing actions utilized by insurers, agents and different third-party entities to spice up enrollment.
Lately, the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has reported a steep rise in beneficiary complaints associated with the selling of Medicare Merit and Section D plans. Many of those court cases have targeted at the actions of agents and different third-party entities, referencing misleading claims and aggressive sales tactics. Issues raised through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and in a report launched through the bulk body of workers of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance have also referred to as consideration to this factor. In reaction, CMS printed up to date rules, effective June 2022, mandating stricter oversight of those 0.33 events through the insurers they constitute. Additional CMS requirements meant to curtail deceptive advertising and marketing actions got here into impact in June 2023, and can follow to the open enrollment length for 2024 protection and past.
To seize the state of tv advertising and marketing actions and believe the consequences for folks with Medicare, KFF analyzed advert knowledge compiled through the Wesleyan Media Undertaking, that had been acquired from Vivvix (previously Kantar) CMAG, a knowledge analytics and consulting company, and had been coded through the Wesleyan Media Undertaking in collaboration with KFF. The knowledge set integrated all English-language TV advertisements that aired throughout nationwide and native markets on broadcast tv or nationwide cable, from October 1st, 2022, thru December 7th, 2022, the length that comes with the Medicare open enrollment length for protection in 2023. (see Methods).
- TV airlines had been flooded with advertisements for Medicare plans. Just about 650,000 airings of Medicare advertisements seemed all over the 9 weeks of promoting, greater than 9,500 airings in keeping with day. These types of advertisements had been aired in native media markets. Whilst maximum TV advertisements had been subsidized through well being insurers, about one in each 5 TV advertisements had been subsidized through agents and different third-party entities, corresponding to advertising and marketing companies.
- TV advertisements for Medicare Merit comprised greater than 85% of all airings for the open enrollment length for 2023. The remainder advertisements serious about different forms of plans, corresponding to Medigap and stand-alone Section D prescription drug plans, or promoted the open enrollment length extra in most cases. Medicare Merit advertisements had been disproportionately subsidized through well being insurers who be offering plans that contain a somewhat small proportion of Medicare Merit enrollees.
- TV advertisements for Medicare Merit steadily confirmed photographs of a government-issued Medicare card or steered audience to name a “Medicare” hotline as opposed to the legit 1-800-Medicare hotline. Greater than 1 / 4 of all airings (27%) integrated a government-issued Medicare card or symbol that resembled it, together with 28% of insurer-sponsored airings and 21% of airings subsidized through agents and different third-party entities, a development that CMS has flagged as probably deceptive to beneficiaries. Kind of 16% of airings featured a privately-run telephone line described as a “Medicare” hotline, maximum of that have been subsidized through agents and different third-party entities.
- Some advertisements instructed that folks with Medicare fail to see advantages to which they’re entitled if they don’t seem to be enrolled in a Medicare Merit plan. Those TV advertisements had been extra not unusual amongst advertisements subsidized through agents and different third-party entities than the ones subsidized through well being insurers, and used language that implied audience had been “lacking out” on advantages they had been “entitled to,” or receiving incomplete protection beneath Medicare Portions A and B in the event that they weren’t enrolled in a Medicare Merit (Section C) plan
- Nearly all of Medicare Merit advert airings touted low prices and further advantages, whilst few discussed high quality rankings. Just about all Medicare Merit advert airings emphasised additional advantages, corresponding to dental, imaginative and prescient, and listening to (92%) or the possibility of decrease out-of-pocket spending (85%). Airings subsidized through agents and different third-party entities steadily (67%) promoted the possibility of enrollees to get a reimbursement of their Social Safety test (or decrease their Medicare Section B top class). Few airings (4%) discussed high quality big name rankings.
- Medicare Merit advert airings steadily featured energetic seniors engaged in bodily actions, however hardly ever confirmed individuals who seemed to have a major well being downside or visual incapacity. One in 4 Medicare Merit advert airings (26%) confirmed seniors collaborating in actions corresponding to mountain climbing or yoga, however few integrated folks with visual disabilities (4%) or the semblance of significant sickness (1%) for whom medical health insurance protection and number of suppliers is also a top precedence.
- TV advertisements subsidized through agents and different third-party entities used famous person endorsements extra steadily than well being insurers to advertise Medicare Merit. Celebrities, corresponding to actors, athletes, and politicians, seemed in additional than part of Medicare Merit advert airings subsidized through agents and different 0.33 events (55%), however hardly ever seemed in airings subsidized through insurers (3%). Acquainted figures integrated Joe Namath, Lionel Richie, William Shatner, and JJ Walker. Joe Namath used to be featured greater than some other famous person, showing in just about 56,000 airings.
Medicare beneficiaries have a wealth of possible choices for his or her medical health insurance protection. Whilst beneficiaries would possibly admire the facility to make a choice from a couple of choices, the variable prices, advantages, supplier networks, and different traits of Medicare Merit plans make the verdict complicated, particularly in gentle of the barrage of promoting. Moreover, details about protection beneath conventional Medicare isn’t integrated in tv advertisements, leaving beneficiaries with an incomplete view in their protection choices and the tradeoffs amongst them. Whilst CMS has issued new laws to deal with issues about competitive and deceptive advertising and marketing techniques, ongoing tracking and sources unbiased of business pursuits may just lend a hand to toughen beneficiary decision-making.
This paintings used to be supported partly through Arnold Ventures. KFF maintains complete editorial keep an eye on over all of its coverage research, polling, and journalism actions.
Jeannie Fuglesten Biniek, Alex Cottrill, Nolan Sroczynski, Meredith Freed and Tricia Neuman are with KFF. Breeze Floyd, Laura Baum, and Erika Franklin Fowler are with the Wesleyan Media Undertaking. We thank Markus Neumann, Jielu Yao (Wesleyan College) and Sarah Gollust (College of Minnesota). We additionally thank the a large number of undergraduate pupil analysis assistants at Wesleyan College for his or her efforts in this undertaking.