"Over the next six months seniors will be bombarded with information and a lot of it will be conflicting and confusing," said Nick Quealy-Gainer, Medicare task force coordinator for Champaign County Health Care Consumers, an Illinois advocacy group.
"Every time there is publicity about the marketplaces, our calls spike," said Leta Blank, director for the Montgomery County, Md., State Health Insurance Assistance Program.
While Medicare officials steer seniors away from the marketplaces, there is nothing in the health law that prevents beneficiaries from signing up for markertplace plans, said Juliette Cubanski, of the Kaiser Family Foundation. If they do, they will not qualify for premium tax credits for the marketplace plans. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
These plans may appeal to wealthy seniors - about 5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries -- who pay higher premiums for Medicare based on their income and assets, said Cubanski. But for the vast majority of seniors, she said, Medicare’s benefit package is better and more affordable compared to marketplace coverage.
Confusion about different government health programs could also create opportunities for scams.
In Denver, AAPR officials received complaints from seniors who were told they would lose their Medicare coverage if they did not divulge their Social Security numbers and other confidential information needed for their new "national health insurance card" under the Affordable Care Act. The Federal Trade Commission issued an alert about such scams in March.
"One of the things we are paying special attention to is fraud prevention messages," said Medicare's Patrick. Seniors can be particularly vulnerable to scams "but with all of the changes in the health care landscape, we may need to be even more careful this year."
Some Questions From Seniors About Medicare And The Health Marketplaces -- Will I lose Medicare coverage? No.
-- Do I need a new Medicare card? No.
-- Do I have to re-enroll in my Medicare Advantage or supplement plan through the marketplace? No, these policies are not sold in the marketplaces.
-- Will seniors in Medicare have to buy supplemental insurance? No.
Fri, Aug 23 2013