FTC Submits Comment to HHS on Providing Consumers Better Information About Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans

For Your Information

The Federal Trade Commission has submitted a comment supporting a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is designed to improve the information that health insurers give to enrollees in Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug benefit plans, so that enrollees can better select a plan that suits their needs. The FTC supports HHS’s proposed rule changes, because the changes will help reduce enrollee confusion and make it easier for consumers to compare plans.

HHS’s proposed rule, “Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefits Programs,” would standardize consumer information disclosures and require health insurers to offer enrollees a choice of significantly different plans. According to the FTC comment, which can be found on the FTC’s Web site and as a link to this press release, these two changes would spur greater competition among Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans. To be most effective, the comment states, the standardized disclosures should be based on objective tests of how well consumers understand them, and they should be updated regularly. The comment also suggests that HHS explore ways to permit third parties to use health insurers’ claim and performance data to develop quality measures that further consumer choice and competition.

The vote approving the Commission’s comment to HHS was 4-0. (FTC File No. V100003; the staff contact is Michael Wroblewski, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2435.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

(FYI 56.2009.wpd)

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