McClellan Discusses Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit at AHIP Conference
CMS Administrator Mark McClellan at a conference Monday called on private health insurers that will provide prescription drug plans under the new Medicare prescription drug benefit to "help people make an informed and competent decision" about which plan to select, CQ HealthBeat reports. Health insurers can begin to market prescription drug plans on Oct. 1, and CMS has sought to educate Medicare beneficiaries about the selection of a plan when the prescription drug benefit begins on Jan. 1, 2006.
At a conference sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans, McClellan warned health insurers not to conduct misleading or premature advertising campaigns for prescription drug plans, adding, "You will be accountable for responsible marketing." McClellan said, "It is important to think beyond your own marketing strategy. I want to remind you to take a close look at our marketing guidelines."
According to CQ HealthBeat, health insurers that do not adhere to the marketing guidelines could have their enrollment frozen or lose their contract to provide prescription drug plans.
McClellan also said health insurers that administer employer-sponsored retiree prescription drug benefits should inform Medicare beneficiaries "now" about the coverage they will offer to reduce confusion when enrollment in the prescription drug benefit begins. CMS next month will post on the Medicare Web site a Medicare Drug Plan Finder and will provide individualized help to callers on the Medicare help line.
According to CQ HealthBeat, McClellan also indicated that fewer health insurers might participate in the Medicare prescription drug benefit than previously estimated because of low premiums charged by competitors. However, a CMS spokesperson said a recent agency estimate that between 11 and 23 organizations will provide prescription drug plans to beneficiaries in traditional, fee-for-service Medicare remains "valid" (CQ HealthBeat, 9/12).
Additional information on the Medicare drug benefit is available online.