Medicare needs to improve communications to seniors, GAO says


MEDICARE: Communications to Beneficiaries on the Prescription Drug Benefit Could Be Improved

The information given in the six sample documents that GAO reviewed describing the Part D benefit was largely complete and accurate, although this information lacked clarity. The documents were unclear in two ways. First, although about 40 percent of seniors read at or below the fifth-grade level, the reading levels of these documents ranged from seventh grade to postcollege. Second, on average, the six documents did not comply with about half of 60 common guidelines for good communication. For example, the documents used too much technical jargon and often did not define difficult terms, such as formulary. Moreover, 16 beneficiaries and advisers that GAO tested reported frustration with the documents’ lack of clarity and had difficulty completing the tasks assigned to them. Although the documents lacked clarity, they informed readers of enrollment steps and factors affecting coverage decisions and were consistent with laws, regulations, and agency guidance.
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