Misleading Marketing Tactics Results in Consumers Being Steered Away from the Federal Marketplace

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A 2021 study by Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center found that during the COVID-19 special enrollment period online enrollment resources and marketers mislead consumers about health insurance plans and more often attempted to direct them to non-Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans. The study developed two “secret shopper” profiles to determine how health plan marketers would steer the profiles. The two profiles represented one 28-year old woman with no pre-existing conditions and one 48-year old woman who took generic cholesterol medication and had a heart condition. Both profiles earned $20,000 a year and were eligible for special enrollment as they had both lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite both of these profiles qualifying for  Bronze and Silver level federal marketplace plans with a monthly premiums between $0-$2, only five out of twenty representatives recommended a federal marketplace plan. Further, eleven marketers recommended plans that had monthly premiums between $70-$300. The full study can be read here.

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