A new Federal Rule proposed last week would limit the contact private health insurance companies could have with Medicare beneficiaries. Under the proposed Rule, agents of private health insurance companies would be barred from cold-calling, door-to-door solicitations, and from setting up tables used for pitching their policies outside hospital waiting rooms and pharmacies.
The Rule is intended to make it harder for private health insurance companies to pressure Medicare beneficiaries into insurance policies that don’t want or need. The underlying reason a Rule like this is required is because it is much harder for someone to say “NO” to the solicitor face-to-face resulting in undue influence or pressure which ultimately causes the person being solicited to make a decision they might not otherwise make.
Advocacy groups see the proposed Rule as a step in the right direction. However, they continue to want more asking the states to regulate the insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans. Currently the states only regulate the activities of the agents selling the plans.
It is a shame that the Federal Government must step in and create a rule that would prevent this type of solicitation. In my opinion, if the Health Insurance Companies were truly worried about their beneficiaries and not just making more money, then they would provide opportunities for informed choices.
For more information check out the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/.