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Readers clearly feel the Medicare marketing blitz

Do you feel you're being bombarded by Medicare marketing?

Yes. I feel deluged with Medicare-related marketing (mail, TV and radio ads) in recent weeks.
77.8%
Yes. It seems likes there's been a recent increase in Medicare-related marketing.
19.1%
No. I haven’t noticed an increase in Medicare marketing in recent weeks.
3.1%
Poll conducted October 19, 2020 - November 4, 2020
1,025 participants

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!)

The agents you encounter at tables in the pharmacy or grocery store can be a great resource, but remember that they are going to use the pharmacy where they are located – and that’s not always the best plan, based on your medication list.

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.

Disclaimer: Our Medicare Surveys series is a tool that allows us to "take the temperature" of our audience. The questions and the results are not intended to be scientific. Rather, we hope to use the information to get a sense of our reader's experiences with the Medicare program and their attitudes toward the program and its coverage.

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Dorothy Treadwell
1 year ago

I am sick to death with the constant tv commercials about Medicare enrollment as well as the phone calls I receive every single day starting at 7:30 in the morning well into the night. There should be a law against it.

Dewey Allen
1 year ago

More government control leads to negative a outcome for everyone. If you don’t like the commercials, you have the option to change the channel. Look into Hulu without commercials and your problem is solved. You also will save money on your monthly cable bill. Seeking a solution outside of the government will always lead to a higher level of satisfaction.

Jim Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  Dewey Allen

So I have to run away and spend money on Hulu or change the channel or turn off my tv? THOSE are my choices as opposed to just regulating the assh***s who insist on barriaging us with misleading ads. That gives us a higher level of satisfaction? You are easily satisfied.

ReneeStockwell
8 months ago
Reply to  Dewey Allen

They’re on every channel!

Judith Leckrone
1 year ago

You are so right! Medicare commercials are so excessive and ridiculous! They say the same stupid things thinking you’ll buy into their so-call changes! Now we’re done with the enrollment period and they still won’t stop! Do they think that as a person gets older we turn stupid?
I watch regular TV and was just muting the crap, but now I turn the TV off! I am 63 years old and if I need information from Medicare I’ll ask for it I don’t need these people nauseating me with their garbage! Darn as I’m texting this Medicare is trying to interrupt me again with their lame questions! They never give up! ?

Al Gigar
1 year ago

Hola yula, my centiments exactly

Cathy
8 months ago

Everyone put on mute through all
their commercials . See how the other commercials like this.

Dorothy Treadwell
1 year ago

IAbsolutely Agree! You took the words right out of my mouth. I have never been so bombarded with phone calls and tv commercials that I wish there was a law against it. In fact I’m willing to go the extra mile to purpose for one.

Maurice Lightner
1 year ago

The calls are actually against the law. A Medicare agent can only call you if you give your consent. If an agent calls take their name and company down then tell the agent your going to report them. I’m an agent myself.

Editor
1 year ago

This is absolutely true, but I think sometimes people don’t realize that they’ve requested a call when they enter their contact information onto multiple websites to get quotes. There are also calls that are simply scammers: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2019/03/protect-yourself-against-medicare-scams

elizabeth a carson-bird
8 months ago
Reply to  Louise Norris

Amen! I fielded two callers yesterday that could not pronouce my very easy name. They were foreign scammers posing as medicare agents. But, my husband who is severely handicapped, is likely on every list concerning insurance, medicare, social security, and bathroom remodeling. I look at the number and if possible, never answer, or hangup if there is a silent gap. This does not count the legitimate people who are “just trying to be nice.” I don’t want nice. I don’t want a better plan. I don’t want an intrusive home visit, to purchase the 4th leg brace, or to further modify my handicapped bathroom. I change channels when one of those stupid commericals air. Other than me initiating communication with my insurance company, or my health care provider, I want to be left alone. I find our healthcare/government adoration to the bottom line nauseating.

Jeannie
7 months ago
Reply to  Louise Norris

I do surveys through an app on my phone. I’ve noticed a barrage of emails pertaining to political views; phone calls about life insurance; phone calls and emails about auto insurance; AND the never ending Medicare sales pitches.

diana campbell
1 year ago

STOP THESE COMMERCIALS !!!

Rosemarie
1 year ago

I can’t stand listening to the many very irritating commercials trying to sell Medicare Advantage plans.

Ann M Dillon
1 year ago

I was counting down the days until December 7 hoping the outrageously absurd amount of Medicare supplement advertising would end but it’s still going strong. Why? And who pays for the advertising?

John Whitmore
1 year ago

Medicare TV commercials are totally out of control. It is March and there are twice as many now than during open enrollment. Retired sports people, actors, actresses are all making big money bombarding us with these ad campaigns. Enough is enough.

Al Gigar
1 year ago

I would like to stop all the commercials on the airways!!!!

John Urankar
1 year ago

It’s quite simple for me,(and I know I’m not alone). The more I am barraged with a certain commercial, the less likely it is that I will pursue that product. Period.

Cheryl Kallman
11 months ago

I am so sick of the commercials that I can’t stand them I mute every single one of them and leave the room they bother me so much I can’t tell you

William Booher
9 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Kallman

Amen Miss Cheryl, AMEN! I too grow giddy with rage.

Debra Hoffman
8 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Kallman

These Medicare commercials make me want to throw something thru the tv, I couldn’t wait till December 7th so I wouldn’t have to see them anymore, now there’s more on now than ever before!!!

Diane
11 months ago

Why do they have to smother us with information that was obsolete 3 years ago?

William Booher
9 months ago

It’s completely disturbing how ad oriented TV has become. Most of of it is a rip off or the ad does not represent the hole truth about their product….. you know “experts say” or “money back guarantee” How much money do people need? I won’t pay for TV especially when it’s $80 to $100 a month. So I’ve had to deal with health care commercials these past months and it’s driving me crazy. THE SAID DEC7TH DEADLINE but here it is the 8th and still the ads continue….. The bottom edge of this website states “find a plan” what happened to good Old fashioned entertainment TV.? Doesn’t lower to middle class Americans deserve it. They take our money for everything else to the point that we’re not able to do anything else besides home entertainment. I love my country but I’m actually glad I won’t live long enough to see it crumble.

Tanya Feke, MD
9 months ago
Reply to  William Booher

It is true that there is a lot of TV advertising during Medicare Open Enrollment, more than most of us want to see! Insurance companies and brokerage firms are trying to get you to speak to one of their representatives so they can sell you one of their plans. Even though the government sets basic standards about what those commercials can and cannot say (the government does NOT pay for these commercials), some of the ads can be misleading — usually by leaving important info out. Many people don’t find that out until they call the number on the screen.

Having ads on TV helps to pay for the programming you watch. They can be hard to avoid unless you pay for a streaming service that is commercial-free. I agree it’s frustrating, even more so when you see a commercial air past its due date. There could be an issue with how ad time was scheduled with the channel or the cable company.

In this case, believe it or not, there might be a reason you see those ads past the Medicare Open Enrollment deadline on December 7. There is another Medicare Enrollment Period that people may not be aware of. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31. It is only for people who are already on a Medicare Advantage plan. During this time, they can change to another Medicare Advantage plan, add a Part D plan to their Medicare Advantage plan if their current plan does not have drug coverage, or leave Medicare Advantage altogether to go to Original Medicare. So, technically, the ads still work by giving you a number to call to talk about your options for THAT enrollment period. Unfortunately, that means you can expect to see these ads through March! The problem is that many of the commercials are not updated to reflect the correct dates and that just leads to more confusion.

As a physician, I tend to be leery of these ads. It is important that you turn to a trusted source when you look into your Medicare options. You can visit Medicare online to see available plans in your area (https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/) or reach out to your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for advice (https://www.shiphelp.org/). You can also consider calling the number listed on this site to speak to a licensed Medicare agent.

Last edited 9 months ago by Tanya Feke, MD
ReneeStockwell
8 months ago

OMG! It’s January 2022 and the Medicare Advantage Plans have started backup, at least on antenna broadcasting. Had they not been silent the last (almost) month the entire country would have went postal. This crap needs to stop!!!!

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