EDITOR’S NOTE: Our Medicare Surveys “take the pulse” of our audience – assessing our readers’ experiences with Medicare and their attitudes toward the program. The questions and the results are not intended to be scientific.
I wish the responses to our most recent survey were different, but they aren’t – and it’s hardly a surprise to me.
Our survey – which ended today – clearly struck a nerve with our readers. More than 1,000 visitors to medicareresources.org and healthinsurance.org’s Medicare state guides weighed in. These readers overwhelmingly signaled that they’re – well – overwhelmed by Medicare marketing in recent weeks.
We asked: “Do you feel you’re being bombarded by Medicare marketing?” The responses?
- 77.7% Yes. I feel deluged with Medicare-related marketing (mail, TV and radio ads) in recent weeks.
- 19.1% Yes. It seem likes there’s been a recent increase in Medicare-related marketing.
- 3.1% No. I haven’t noticed an increase in Medicare marketing in recent weeks.
Why is this Medicare marketing blitz happening now?
The Medicare Annual Election Period (also called Open Enrollment) starts on October 15 each year and ends on December 7. That means that typically, the Medicare commercials and mail start right after Labor Day, with phone calls beginning October 1. Under the Medicare guidelines, marketers cannot call or set appointments prior to October 1, but they can definitely get you “thinking” about the election period. (Check out our 2021 Guide to Medicare Open Enrollment.)
With more than 100,000 brokers and agents certified to sell Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, that’s a lot of people trying to get your business in less than two months. (And that doesn’t include the insurance companies who also want your business.)
Medicare Advantage plans are extremely profitable for the insurance carriers – and agents/brokers only have the Annual Election Period to get as many fish in their net as possible for the upcoming year (not including people who age in when they turn 65).
How did Medicare marketers get my phone number and address?
Medicare marketing lists are inexpensive and readily available to anyone who wants to use them for mailings and phone calls. So if you have 10,000 agents in Los Angeles, chances are – if you are over 65 and live in a zip code the agent wants to sell in – you have received a LOT of mail since Labor Day.
And then we have the phone calls. The same issue applies: if your name is on the list and multiple agents are using the same list, that results in a lot of phone calls.
How can I make the Medicare calls stop?
TIP: If you want the calls to stop, respond with “My phone number is on the Do Not Call list and I will report you to CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) if you continue to call.” (Ignoring the Do Not Call list is a serious infraction for agents.)
What about in-person Medicare marketers?
Then we have the door knockers and agent kiosks. You do not have to answer the door. Ever. (And I highly recommend not answering, especially now!)
Equally important, you do not want to use an agent or broker who is captive to a particular insurance company. You want help from someone who will give you an unbiased approach that will meet your needs.
Should I pay attention to marketers during Medicare's open enrollment period?
It is very important to review your plan each year, but that does not require you to respond to the marketing.
A few tips
- Using a trusted agent or advisor is always best, but you want review your drug list and pharmacy for the upcoming year at Medicare.gov at the very least.
- Use more than one pharmacy for a prescription drug cost comparison.
- If you are enrolled in an Advantage plan, its always best to confirm with your doctor that they will be participating in your plan for the next year.
- Always remember that Medicare and Social Security are not going to call you unless you asked for help with an issue.
While the marketing – whether its mail, email or phone calls – is out of control, we don’t look for it to be going away anytime soon. Your best bet? Find a trusted advisor to help you through the process each year.
Jenny Chumbley Hogue brings over 30 years of health industry experience to her role as a contributor for medicareresources.org. The owner of her own health insurance agency – KG Health Insurance – Jennifer specializes in Medicare, small-group insurance and the individual health insurance market. She takes great pride in not only understanding the details and laws regarding Medicare and individual-market health Insurance, but more importantly, being able to explain to regulations to consumers in a way that is easy to understand.