You probably know that Medicare is a health insurance program for Americans aged 65 and older. It doesn't pay for everything, so if someone wants more complete coverage they can opt to purchase a Medicare Advantage plan from a private insurance company. Today I evaluated an insurance agent who was giving a formal marketing event for one of their Medicare Advantage plans. There was nothing secret or unethical about my attendance. The health insurance carrier hired me to be there.
When agents sell those plans, Medicare has a list of dos and don'ts they have to abide by. For example, they can provide light snacks and give out gifts worth less than $15 as long as they provide them to anyone, not only in exchange for plan enrollment. They can't provide or pay for meals or offer gifts worth more than $15 (or money or gift cards in any amount). There are also statements they can and can't make regarding their plans. My job was to listen and observe everything that went on so I could report back.
The event was held in the meeting room of a local bank. I was a little apprehensive when I walked into the building with my letter of authorization from the insurance company. The agent was standing outside the room greeting people as they walked in. I introduced myself and handed her the letter; she took it in stride and invited me to have a seat. Including me, there were six people in the room. Everyone else was of Medicare age. I brought a notebook to write things down, and was a little afraid I'd stand out. Fortunately, there were a lot of other people taking notes, too.
There was a lot of information covered. The agent did a good job and covered all the bases. Her information was very clear, and she didn't make any unapproved statements. At the end of the presentation she offered to help people fill out the application form. That was my clue to leave.
Five years ago today: Turn Off The Lights