However, those who have either recently enrolled in an HMO or who have recently switched from one Medicare HMO to another apparently make more use of Medicare-sponsored education tools, than do fee-for-service participants.
The report, which Mathematic prepared for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), aimed measure the usefulness of the National Medicare Education Program, and followed a two-year nationwide telephone and paper survey of HMO enrollees and fee-for-service beneficiaries.
Switchers and New Enrollees
The report found that among the new and recently switched HMO-enrollees, only 44% use the National Medicare Education Program educational tools – tools that were developed to promote the Medicare+Choice program and to inform beneficiaries about new health care options.
Among fee-for-service participants, 39% had used at least one Medicare-sponsored educational source.
Tools of the Trade
The tools include:
- mass mailings of “Medicare & You”,
- a toll-free telephone service
- an Web site,
- health fairs,
- newspapers and public service announcements,
- counseling through the state health insurance program, and
- a trainer model for nonprofit agencies to educate beneficiaries
Findings of the study show that:
- some 33% of the switchers and new enrollees use the handbook, compared to 30% of the reference group,
- about 12% of the switchers and new enrollees use the toll-free number, in comparison to 11% in the fee-for-service group
- in the HMO group, less than 4% attended a state health insurance program or counseling session, and 1% each used the Web site and attended a health fair or lecture, and
- nearly three quarters of switchers and new enrollees used non-National Medicare Education Program sources, such as family, health care providers and former employers
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