DMHC Warns of Rising Number of Medicare Advantage Plan Scams
On Wednesday, officials with California's Department of Managed Health Care issued a public warning about the growing number of illegal marketing strategies being used to sell Medicare Advantage plans, HealthLeaders Media reports (Clark, HealthLeaders Media, 10/13).
Officials made the warning as the MA and Medicare prescription drug plan open enrollment period begins on Saturday (Guy, Fresno Bee, 10/12).
Details of the Warning
During a news conference, DMHC Director Brent Barnhart said, "Deceptive marketing of Medicare Advantage products to senior citizens and others eligible for Medicare or Medi-Cal is a relatively new phenomenon in California and in the nation." Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
He said that in the last three years, DMHC has received hundreds of complaints from beneficiaries who switched to plans they did not need or were not appropriate for them.
The state offers an website with strategies on how consumers can avoid deceptive marketing schemes (HealthLeaders Media, 10/13).
Broker Barred From Selling MA Plans
Also on Wednesday, DMHC officials barred insurance broker Hussein Osman Ali of Fresno-based Brawley Insurance Services from selling MA plans.
The agency said Ali misrepresented services that his firm offered (Fresno Bee, 10/12).
Barnhart noted that Ali recently had pled guilty to a federal indictment of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
The agency has taken action against 20 insurance agents in the last two years in an effort to rein in deceitful practices, according to Barnhart (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 10/12).
Sutter Health, UnitedHealthcare Team Up on Medicare Plan
In related news, Sutter Health and UnitedHealthcare will offer a zero-premium Medicare HMO plan in the greater Sacramento area (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 10/12).
According to the two companies, those who enroll in the new plan -- called AARP MedicareComplete -- will be able to:
- Access preventive care and health screenings without copayments;
- Add dental and vision coverage for an additional monthly cost; and
- Visit Sutter's primary and specialty care physicians (Verel, North Bay Business Journal, 10/12).