MEDICARE+CHOICE: HCFA Kicks Off Massive Info. Campaign
In the largest public education campaign in Medicare's 34-year history, the federal government is mailing out handbooks intended to guide America's 39 million Medicare enrollees through "the brave new world of health care choices envisioned by Congress." The new guide, "Medicare & You 2000," is being launched after months of market testing that found Medicare beneficiaries and their families "have only a sketchy understanding" of the traditional Medicare program, Medigap insurance and recently introduced managed care alternatives. The guide is being mailed to 32 million homes and will contain information on Medicare options available in 26 specific regions and health plan quality data. In addition to the handbook, the educational effort -- expected to cost $133 million this fiscal year -- is bolstered by a new toll-free telephone service (1-800-633-4227), an expanded Internet site (www.medicare.gov) and outreach partnerships between HCFA and more than 200 local and national groups. Overall, the campaign may be the "biggest peacetime education program the federal government has ever undertaken," said HCFA Director Nancy-Ann Min DeParle (Toner, New York Times, 9/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.