Wyden seeks details from brokers in probe of MA marketing tactics

The Senate Finance Committee sent letters to multiple insurance marketplaces, seeking additional details on the marketing strategies they use to reach potential Medicare Advantage enrollees.

The panel sent letters to the leadership at eHealth, GoHealth, Agent Pipeline, SelectQuote and TRANZACT for a look at how they deploy insurance agents, lead generators and other strategies to market specific plans to seniors. It is the latest step in an ongoing probe around marketing strategies in MA.

The investigation is led by Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who said he's seeking to ensure that Medicare Advantage plans are not using misleading tactics in marketing to seniors.

"Seniors are being bombarded by well-intentioned brokers and bad actors who use various ploys to sell Medicare plans such as providing misleading information about plan options, and misrepresenting themselves as from the Medicare program," Wyden wrote in the letters. 

"Witnesses confirmed the widespread sale and transfer of seniors’ personal information between third-party marketing organizations (TPMOs) and lead generators," Wyden wrote. "The largely unregulated sale of seniors’ information to lead generators and TPMOs has led to a race to the bottom as unscrupulous actors put their own financial interests ahead of seniors’ health needs."

The Finance Committee hosted a hearing last fall that dug into changes in marketing rule in the midst of the Medicare annual enrollment period. Wyden also backed changes to marketing tactics that were proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The letters seek answers to a slew of questions such as how many people each company enrolled between 2018 and 2022, what IT platforms agents can use to assist people in finding plans and what information is collected about individual leads.

"Seniors overwhelmed by the onslaught may then hear high-pressured sales pitches or misleading information from marketers leading to confusion and enrollments into the Medicare Advantage plan that spent the most on marketing and lead generation, not the plan that best suits the seniors’ health needs," Wyden wrote.