The federal government is cracking down on misleading ads for Medicare Advantage plans that prey on older Americans.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration proposed a ban on ads that use confusing words, images, or logos to sell Medicare advantage plans that sometimes don’t cover a person’s doctors or prescriptions.

The regulation would also require that ads cite a health insurance plan by name.

The Associated Press called it “an aggressive step to tackle a growing problem in the Medicare Advantage marketplace, a booming business that offers privately run versions of the government’s Medicare program for people who are 65 and older or have disabilities.”

The AP said about 28 million people use Medicare Advantage plans — almost half of all senior adults or people with disabilities enrolled in Medicare.

“And some have been deceived by television commercials, online ads and mailers put out by the marketing agencies and brokers that some insurers have hired to win over customers,” the AP wrote.

The change “takes important steps to hold Medicare Advantage plans accountable for providing high quality coverage and care to enrollees,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a statement.

Last month, Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee said several states had reported more complaints about deceptive marketing tactics in 2021. They said some older people in Ohio received mailers resembling tax forms and promising bigger Social Security checks with enrollment in a new Medicare Advantage plan. And some national TV ads offer “money back to your Social Security check” while omitting vital details.

“These proposals are an important step towards protecting seniors in Medicare from scammers and unscrupulous insurance companies and brokers,” the committee chairman, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a statement on Wednesday.


Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: “HHS Proposes Rule to Strengthen Beneficiary Protections, Improve Access to Behavioral Health Care, and Promote Equity for Millions of Americans with Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D.”

Associated Press: “Biden administration proposes crackdown on scam Medicare ads.”

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