Tuesday, November 22, 2005
From The Hill:
Medicare beneficiaries may be confused about the finer points of their new prescription-drug coverage, but a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign conducted by the Bush administration should at least have made them aware that the benefit is coming.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has spent $25 million to $30 million on a multimedia advertising effort advising beneficiaries that the time has come to choose a health-insurance plan to help them pay for their medicines. The open-enrollment period started last Tuesday and ends May 15.
The ad buy represents only about 10 percent of what Medicare will spend this year promoting the drug benefit, but observers say the ads will continue to be a crucial part of keeping the program in the front of beneficiaries’ minds.
As the start of the enrollment period neared, surveys showed that as few as 20 percent of people who are currently receiving Medicare would sign up for the benefit. Many have complained that the process of choosing among dozens of private health plans is too complicated.
There is no shortage of available information on the drug benefit. In addition to educational and promotional efforts funded by the government, private companies and advocacy groups have reached out to older and disabled Americans at the national, state and local levels. Moreover, the health-insurance companies selling the plans have a strong interest in pitching their products to a massive new market.
Ed: $30 million--the costs of the ads--would pay the Medicare Part D generic drug co-payment for some 15 million prescriptions for Medicare-Medicaid dual eligibles.