More than 8 million seniors are now enrolled in private Medicare plans known as Medicare Advantage, or Dis-Advantage as I said during our two-part series on the Evening News this week. During an engaging interview Ms. Norwalk never wavered from her message: we're working to ease the confusion among all the plans; working to weed out the unscrupulous salesman preying on unknowing seniors; working to make this, well, work.
The problem is – it's really not. Not according Bob Hayes, president of the Medicare Rights Center in New York, which every year fields thousands of calls from seniors petrified they made the wrong choice, were sold a bill of goods, or can't get off a plan they don't want or need. Not according to state health experts we surveyed across the country (see related story)
The Private Medicare Maze
When we do stories about Medicare Advantage I think of our audience – an average age of about 60 – sitting at home faced with just the kind of issues and problems we're talking about on television. Reporting on Medicare, especially on TV, is anything but easy, and frankly we struggled at times this week to simplify a complex set of facts and figures, to help you understand a major medical decision you're either facing or will soon face.
The best advice I can offer is don't enter the world of private Medicare insurance without help from someone who has the time and intellect to decipher a plethora of plans and to help get you off those plans if they fail to meet your medical needs. If a family member or friend isn't available then take Leslie Norwalk's advice and call 1-800-MEDICARE, or the Medicare Rights Center at 1-800-333-4114. You can't lose.