Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said he would seek legislation that would rein in some of the more aggressive tactics used by sales agents for private Medicare Advantage plans, including prohibiting door-to-door sales and other high-pressure measures that have confused some Medicare beneficiaries in the past.
The push to sell Medicare benefits by private plans has been aggressive at best, he said during a hearing on Capitol Hill on the topic. Too often, it has been abusive and downright fraudulent. Serious problems have been revealed in the way that insurers and their agents market and sell Medicare plans.
Last year, a survey of 41 states conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or NAIC, showed that more than half of them had reported fraudulent sales and marketing practices, while 39 of them overall reported complaints of misrepresentations by insurance agents or companies. Michael McRaith, director of the Illinois Division of Insurance and an NAIC representative, said that CMS marketing rules developed last year to staunch such sale practices have had a middling effectwith some states showing improvement and others seeing no change. But, he added, the status quo is not working.
Baucus hammered away at the sales incentive programs many independent agents operate under, which include financial bonuses of several thousand dollars to enroll a number of beneficiaries into the Medicare Advantage plans. -- by Matthew DoBias
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