Unused Medicare Assistance Programs  

It’s no secret that people need help, especially when it comes to paying for Medicare and the services they need. While there are numerous programs designed to assist, they often go unused due to a lack of information or not understanding the process. These include Medicare Savings Programs (MSP)s that can pay the premiums for eligible enrollees, and cover costs or part of the costs for coinsurance and copayments.

Barriers to Non-enrollment

Even when there are resources, not having access to those resources can stem from several reasons:

  • Misinformed
    Being misinformed could go both ways. Individuals who qualify for the Medicare programs may have been given the wrong information or when they tried to sign up, were sent somewhere else. Having to go around in circles trying to access programs they qualify for is not only frustrating but makes them give up.
  • Administrative red tape
    It’s no secret that many administrative offices make things more difficult than they need to be. From paperwork getting mishandled, to making the process cumbersome. Older people don’t want the headache, so they forego these services.
  • Lack of knowledge
    You can’t get what you don’t know about. This could be two-fold. The lack of knowledge from the eligible enrollees because they didn’t know where to access the information, the individuals providing the enrollment services not knowing how to reach the people, or the companies administering these programs not knowing too much about the programs to tell eligible enrollees.
  • Enrollment issues
    Once an eligible enrollee finds out about the program and they attempt to enroll, there may be issues with the technology being used that is outdated, may not have their correct information, and they don’t know how to navigate the system.

States can do a much better job of disseminating this information or providing ways for these eligible enrollees to speak to knowledgeable teams that can assist in getting these services to them. There are several initiatives that are being put in place to assist in getting state enrollment processes aligned across the board so the enrollees and the agencies capable of assisting them can do a better job.

A few suggestions would be to have better systems in place, have automatic renewals every year unless canceled by the enrollee, removing asset limits for those who may have more assets than the current guidelines, and increasing the number of enrollees that are currently ineligible due to income.

Until this happens, the MSP enrollment will continue to have dwindling numbers and remain underused. The first step is in getting enrollees information where they can automatically check to see if they qualify or have protocols in place where they will be contacted or sent communication letting them know about the programs, eligibility rules, and additional programs they may fall under.

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