August Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

Understanding Medicare Advantage Plans

At the recent SOAR Executive Board meeting held June 10 & 11 in Washington, D.C., it was decided that we as an organization should look at ways to assist our members in understanding the benefits and disadvantages of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.

While we know that for some of our retirees, their retiree health care coverage is negotiated, many of our members must navigate the complicated jungle of plans available to them.

Some of the issues with MA plans were identified during a Senate hearing on May 17, 2023, titled “Examining Health Care Denials and Delays in Medicare Advantage.”

The high-pressure sales pitch we all have heard, from phone calls made by sales representatives claiming to be from Medicare to TV commercials with celebrities offering benefits that are not actually available to many of us, were some of the topics covered in the hearing.

Many SOAR chapters invite representatives from insurance companies to speak at their meetings. Most often, the insurance company sends a salesperson who is trying to get more customers. A person from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) or the County Office for the Aging may present a clearer picture of the type of coverage that could potentially be best for our individual needs.

We should not depend on Joe Namath or some other celebrity to tell us what type of MA plan is best for us. Sometimes, a supplement plan may be the best and, in the long run, the cheapest for our specific needs.

A recent article in the AARP magazine claims, “rules that will kick in September 30 are part of a regulation designed to crack down on what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calls ‘misleading marketing schemes by health insurance companies.’”

Among other provisions, the new rule would prohibit overly general ads about the MA program that often confuse and mislead individuals eligible to apply for MA insurance plans. 

Your SOAR Executive Board does not endorse any product or claim any plan superior to another. However, we will continue to provide information on these types of plans to the best of our ability so that our members can make an informed decision on what kind of plan best suits their individual needs.


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