Have you ever wondered why private insurance companies are allowed to use the word “Medicare” in their title and branding, even though they are NOT Medicare? Even the word “advantage” in “Medicare Advantage” plans can be misleading. Who has the advantage? While monthly premiums may be cheaper than some Medigap plans monthly premiums, when intensive and expensive care is needed, prior authorizations, co-insurance, copays and out-of-pocket maximums to be paid can make these MA plans a real disadvantage to some enrollees.
Due to such confusion that can be caused by private insurers using Medicare’s brand, and the rise in Medicare Advantage (MA) plan enrollment fraud and deceptive marketing, U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ro Khanna (CA-17), and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) recently reintroduced the “Save Medicare Act.” This bill renames so-called “Medicare Advantage” plans, prohibits private insurers from using “Medicare” in plan titles or advertisements, and imposes significant fines for any insurer that engages in this deceptive practice.
With many TV viewers currently being inundated with commercials for private healthcare plans during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (Jan 1 – March 31), Reps. Pocan, Khanna, and Schakowsky filmed a video explaining why Medicare Advantage is not Medicare.
As mentioned in Representative Mark Pocan’s press release, according to a New York Times article published last October, “8 of the 10 largest Medicare Advantage insurers – representing more than two-thirds of the market – have submitted inflated bills…and four of the five largest players – United Health, Humana, Elevance, and Kaiser – have faced federal lawsuits alleging that efforts to overdiagnose their customers crossed the line into fraud.”
Additionally, according to the federal Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s 2022 report to Congress, at least $12 billion in overpayments were made to Medicare Advantage plans in 2020 by the federal government.
The “Save Medicare Act” will help eliminate the confusion private insurers have relied upon for years to enroll unsuspecting seniors, and restore true Medicare as the primary health plan older Americans rely on.