In a television ad repeated incessantly, 60’s quarterback star Joe Namath reads his lines to promote the Medicare Coverage Helpline. “Are you getting all the benefits you deserve?” He ticks off the new benefits. You may be able to lower your out of pocket costs and get extra benefit now, he says.
The ad announces that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has officially authorized new benefits that Medicare Advantage Plans may include. “One simple call gives you free, professional assistance to help you get more benefits and save money,” says Namath. It sounds like a public service announcement from Medicare.
But it isn’t. It’s a pitch to sign up in the privatized, for-profit Medicare Advantage plans—and it’s a scam. It is true that a person may be able to lower monthly costs by enrolling in one of these plans. That’s a powerful incentive in a time when the majority of seniors live on tight budgets, many just an inch from disaster. The laws and regulations allow these insurance companies to lure seniors away from traditional Medicare, and Congresspersons of both parties should be held responsible.