UnitedHealthcare builds out 'Medicare' effort

MINNETONKA, MN: UnitedHealthcare expanded its "Medicare Made Clear" guide into an integrated campaign that aims to educate Medicare-eligible consumers about recent changes to Medicare.

MINNETONKA, MN: UnitedHealthcare expanded its “Medicare Made Clear” guide into an integrated campaign that aims to educate Medicare-eligible consumers about recent changes to Medicare.

The health insurer launched its “Medicare Made Clear” guide in 2005, but this year added social media channels and updated the website with new features to better inform Medicare-eligible consumers and their caregivers, said Matt Burns, director of media relations for UnitedHealthcare's Medicare business.

“We see it as an opportunity to play a leading role in helping educate those consumers,” he said, later adding: “This is our most comprehensive and aggressive effort yet.”

The site includes links to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter pages, as well as new videos and interactive features. Fleishman-Hillard, which has worked with UnitedHealthcare Medicare Solutions and Ovations since 2008, is providing support for this year's campaign.

The campaign launched September 27.

UnitedHealthcare is also partnering with grocery stories like Safeway and Kroger and pharmacies like Walgreens to distribute educational materials in English and Spanish about Medicare.

Health insurers are facing cuts in the Medicare Advantage program, which has received more funding per person than traditional Medicare programs since 2003. Following passage of the healthcare law in March, government payments to Medicare Advantage will be reduced over the next decade.

Other significant changes to Medicare include a one-time $250 rebate this year for people who are enrolled in Medicare Part D and who fall into the prescription drug coverage gap and changes in open enrollment periods.

Burns said that along with the changes in Medicare enrollment dates, there will be a need for more education about Medicare “the Baby Boomer generation grows into the Medicare-eligible age."

“We recognized the shortage of information and the continued confusion about some of the changes about Medicare,” he said.

The company is participating in a number of AARP events and launched a limited number of online and TV ads, said Burns. He declined to provide budget for the campaign but called it a “considerable investment.”

In addition to the campaign, UnitedHealthcare partnered with the Council on Aging - Orange County for a pilot program that would air radio PSAs providing basic educational information about Medicare.

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