Providing information to help Medicare beneficiaries choose a health plan
McCormack, L., Burrus, B., Garfinkel, S., Gibbs, D., Harris-Kojetin, L., & Sangl, J. A. (2001). Providing information to help Medicare beneficiaries choose a health plan. Journal of Aging and Social Policy, 12(2), 49-72.
Many Medicare beneficiaries have limited knowledge of the Medicare program and related health insurance options. This is due in part to the complexity of the Medicare program and supplemental health insurance market. A recent congressional mandate through the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 called for broad dissemination of information to educate beneficiaries about their health plan options and to encourage informed health plan decision-making. In response, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) launched the National Medicare Education Program (NMEP) to support the educational objectives of the BBA. This paper provides an overview of the components of the NMEP information campaign. We also review lessons learned from our experience in designing and testing a prototype consumer handbook that explains the different health plan options to Medicare beneficiaries. Through our discussion of the handbook, we highlight several ways to communicate information effectively about a complex publicly funded program to an older adult population