Medicare Mailing Error Tells 400K Their Coverage Is Ending

Medicare has sent out approximately 400,000 letters to Medicare recipients informing them "Your Current Plan Coverage Ends December 31st, 2009 Because of a Business Decision Made by Your Health Plan." (December 31st is the yearly deadline for recipients to change their plans to maintain uninterrupted coverage).

The problem is that many of these letters have been sent in error. Medicare is trying to get a grip on exactly how many people and plans are affected. It could be tens of thousands. It could be fewer. The Department of Health and Human Services simply doesn't know.

Here's the official explanation: Companies failed to provide adequate information on available plans by a November deadline. Companies blame the government and now are having to scramble to keep panicky seniors from hastily changing their plans. Both advise anyone receiving these letters to call their plans.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care

Barry Bagnato is a CBS News Radio Correspondent.

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