Health Law Highlights

Congress Eyeing Broker Payments Behind Booming Medicare Sales

From Bloomberg Law, by John Tozzi:

  • About 31 million people – more than half of Medicare enrollees – opt to get their coverage through private plans known as Medicare Advantage.
  • Lawmakers are examining the payments made by health insurers to brokers who sell their Medicare plans, concerned that the payments may be steering seniors to some plans over others.
  • Federal rules limit the commissions Medicare plans can pay brokers, but some companies may be skirting these rules by offering extra payments that can sometimes double brokers’ compensation, influencing them to push plans that pay the most.
  • A report from the Senate Finance Committee last year described deceptive marketing tactics, “fraudulent sales practices,” and instances of people being enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans without knowing it.
  • The large, publicly traded online brokers report revenue from both commissions and other sources, such as “volume-based bonuses” for meeting sales targets and “marketing development funds” for certain customers.