Senator accuses Medicare Advantage marketers of 'race to the bottom'

Medicare Advantage's annual enrollment period is over, but the marketing tactics used to sell older adults on the plans are still under scrutiny in Washington. 

Sen. Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee and a frequent critic of MA marketing, penned a letter to the CEOs of five third-party marketing services Jan. 11, seeking information on how the companies use insurance agents and lead generators to reach older adults. 

Older adults may not understand that when they respond to a third-party lead generator, they are not responding to a company that actually sells insurance but are instead sending their information to several agencies looking to sell plans, Mr. Wyden wrote in his letter. 

Responding to just one ad can lead older adults to receive a "barrage" of texts, calls and emails from plans that purchased information from lead generators, according to the senator. 

"The largely unregulated sale of seniors' information to lead generators and [third-party marketing organizations] has led to a race to the bottom as unscrupulous actors put their own financial interests ahead of seniors' health needs," Mr. Wyden wrote. 

CMS has cracked down on Medicare Advantage marketing in recent years, requiring television ads for the program to get the agency's approval. The agency has proposed prohibiting plans from giving volume-based bonus payments to third-party marketing agencies in 2025. 

Read the full letter here. 

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