Developing and Providing Effective Medicare Education Materials to Retirees: The Role of Employers
Uhrig, J. D., & Harris-Kojetin, L. (2005, December). Developing and Providing Effective Medicare Education Materials to Retirees: The Role of Employers. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
Employers are one of the most recognized and accessible intermediaries for information about retiree health insurance options. We conducted in-depth interviews with human resource staff to gain an understanding of current practices, challenges, and lessons learned in communicating with employees about Medicare. In addition, we conducted focus groups with retirees who recently turned 65 and made a Medicare health plan choice. We applied lessons learned from the in-depth interviews, focus groups, health communication theories, and prior research on Medicare health plan decision-making to develop "Choose with Care". Choose with Care is a decision support tool for employers to use when assisting people approaching age 65 to learn about their Medicare health plan options and how to incorporate quality and services into their choices. It contains materials for employers aimed at helping them to tailor consumer education materials for their particular organization or region as well as templates for a set of print-based consumer materials and a website. We conducted usability testing interviews with employees ages 58-64 and tested the efficacy of the final materials in randomized experiments. Finally, we obtained specific feedback from HR staff and experts in Medicare education and health communication on the employer and consumer products. We will discuss key findings, lessons learned, and recommendations to inform the development of materials that facilitate the employers' role as information intermediary in counseling their employees about new choices available under the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA).