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Monday, 10 July 2006 13:51

Private Medicare Hotlines Provide Inaccurate or Incomplete Information for 66% of Calls

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A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today by several House Democrats found that call centers run by private Medicare drug plans provide inaccurate and incomplete information for 66% of calls for help. Congress allowed for the privatization of prescription drug plans in 2003, which has resulted in over 1,400 stand-alone plans, all varying in cost and coverage.

Informational call centers were required to assist customers in making informed choices, but today's report highlights how difficult it can be to determine which plan to choose. In one case, a plan sponsor hotline underestimated the actual costs by $6,000.

"Senior citizens are being hurt by the indifference and incompetence of the Bush Administration and its friends in the insurance industry," said Rep. John Dingell.

"The lack of accurate and understandable information for our seniors has been a chronic problem since the beginning." Rep. Charles Rangel agreed, noting that the failure rate shows that the private plan system is "so complicated that even those who offer and administer the benefit are confused."

In May, a separate GAO report found similar problems with the Medicare website, 1-800 information hotline, and written materials.

Click here to view the GAO report (PDF).