The May 21st New York Times’ editorial on Medicare Advantage Marketing Abuses is our selection for this month’s “Networthy Award” for outstanding coverage of elder issues on the net.

Entitled “Medicare’s Much-Too-HardSell” this piece narrows in on the unavoidable truth behind the inexcusable fraud and predatory marketing practices too often used to sell private Medicare Advantage plans. The Times writes:

“The Bush administration has proposed welcome new regulations to curb the deceptive, hard-sell tactics often used to foist private Medicare policies on unwary consumers. Unfortunately, it has been unwilling to eliminate the root cause of the problem: the high subsidies that prop up these plans and make them so attractive to high-pressure marketers.”


“The worst abuses have been committed by predatory marketers selling the comprehensive policies known as Medicare Advantage plans. The government pays these plans 13 percent more, on average, than the same services would cost in the traditional Medicare program. The subsidies are even more egregious — averaging 17 percent above cost — for the so-called private fee-for-service plans within Medicare Advantage. All told, the unjustified subsidies will cost the government more than $50billion from 2009 to 2012. Small wonder that plans use high-pressure tactics to market these lucrative policies.”

Our President/CEO, Barbara Kennelly, commended the Times on its dead-on assessment in this letter to the editor:

“Rather than spending even more federal dollars policing private insurers in Medicare, why not remove the underlying incentive encouraging them to push these higher profit plans in the first place? How many dollars will we spend on investigations and enforcement for private insurers who want to maximize the financial incentives provided to them by Congress?”