About My Medicare Matters
MyMedicareMatters.org is brought to you by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) in partnership with Aon Retiree Health Exchange™ and Via Benefits™. This educational service is designed to make it easier for people with Medicare (and those turning 65) to make informed and confident choices about their health coverage and to make the most of that coverage.
The service offers:
- Education and unique decision-support tools provided by NCOA to help people make good decisions and save money
- For those who choose it, one-on-one assistance – at no cost – in selecting and enrolling in healthcare coverage that best fits that individual from a licensed Benefits Advisor at Aon Retiree Health Exchange or Via Benefits
About the Partnerships:
NCOA, MyMedicareMatters.org and their partners, Aon Retiree Health Exchange™ and Via Benefits™
NCOA (through its wholly owned subsidiary NCOA Services, LLC) selected Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits as trusted partners because of their strong track record of serving people with Medicare, their ability to meet all of NCOA’s Standards of Excellence established for a Medicare marketplace, and their transparency, allowing NCOA Services the visibility to monitor adherence to those rigorous standards. Together, MyMedicareMatters.org and their partners, Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits are another way for NCOA to help people save money and get more out of their healthcare coverage.
About the National Council on Aging
The National Council on Aging is a respected national leader and trusted partner in helping people aged 60+ meet the challenges of aging.
NCOA’s mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. Through innovative community programs and services, online help, and advocacy, NCOA is partnering with nonprofit organizations, government, and business to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.
What is NCOA Services?
NCOA Services, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of NCOA. Its mission is to improve the health and economic security of millions of older adults and help make NCOA an enduring organization. NCOA Services is a social enterprise that partners with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations to develop creative solutions to address the challenges of aging in America and bring them to scale nationwide.
NCOA Services is responsible for working with NCOA and its nonprofit partners to educate people with Medicare about the program. NCOA Services also works with Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits to ensure that the services provided through their joint programs meet the Standards of Excellence established by NCOA for a Medicare marketplace.
For more information, please visit www.ncoa.org/NCOAServices.
About Our Partners
Aon Retiree Health Exchange™
What is Aon Retiree Health Exchange™?
Aon Retiree Health Exchange is a service of Aon, a leading global provider of risk-management and insurance services. Aon Retiree Health Exchange has successfully helped over 300,000 individuals evaluate their Medicare options to select the right coverage for their needs.
Their experienced Benefits Advisors, who are licensed insurance agents, identify plans that fit customers’ healthcare, financial and lifestyle objectives. To ensure that the help that Aon Retiree Health Exchange provides is objective and unbiased, the licensed insurance agents are not compensated based on the plan the customer enrolls in.
Aon Retiree Health Exchange not only simplifies the process of helping a consumer choose the right plan, but also simplifies the sometimes complicated mechanics of enrollment to make sure customers get seamless access to their new coverage. In addition, they continue to work with customers beyond enrollment to assist with any issues they may have with their healthcare coverage.
All of these Aon Retiree Health Exchange services are available to anyone who needs assistance, at no charge.
Seniors confirm a high level of satisfaction with the Aon Retiree Health Exchange service. According to a recent survey conducted by an independent third party* of the retirees Aon Retiree Health Exchange served in 2012, 92% of retirees were satisfied with their Benefit Advisor.
*Maritz Research, 2013
What is Aon?
Aon plc (NYSE:AON) is the leading global provider of risk management, insurance and reinsurance brokerage and human resources solutions and outsourcing services. Through its more than 65,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon unites to empower results for clients in over 120 countries via innovative and effective risk and people solutions and through industry-leading global resources and technical expertise. Aon has been named repeatedly as the world’s best broker, best insurance intermediary, reinsurance intermediary, captives manager and best employee benefits consulting firm by multiple industry sources.
Aon empowers organizations and individuals to secure a better future through innovative talent, retirement and health solutions. They advise, design and execute a wide range of solutions that enable clients to cultivate talent to drive organizational and personal performance and growth, navigate retirement risk while providing new levels of financial security and redefine health solutions for greater choice, affordability and wellness. Aon is the global leader in human resource solutions, with over 30,000 professionals in 90 countries serving more than 20,000 clients worldwide. For more information on Aon, please visit www.aonhewitt.com.
What is Via Benefits™?
Via Benefits Insurance Services is the nation’s oldest and largest Medicare marketplace, helping over 1.8 million people shop for and select Medicare coverage.
Combining personalized assistance with user-friendly decision support tools in our online Medicare marketplace, Via Benefits simplifies the complexities of today’s insurance options. The U.S. based licensed benefit advisors guide customers to make informed and confident enrollment decisions that fit their individual needs and budget.
To provide unbiased advice for all customers, Via Benefits services and marketplace are free, and their representatives are compensated on the quality of the customer’s experience rather than selling specific plans. Via Benefits customer service advocates are available to assist with any and all questions or concerns about their benefits. Via Benefits is owned and operated by Willis Towers Watson.
What is Willis Towers Watson?
Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking, and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has over 40,000 employees serving more than 140 countries.
Willis Towers Watson designs and delivers solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Their unique perspective allows them to see the critical intersections between talent, аssets, and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance.
About the Standards of Excellence
NCOA convened an expert Consumer Advisory Panel to develop Standards of Excellence for consumer education and health insurance brokerage services for people with Medicare. NCOA Services is responsible for ensuring that Aon Retiree Health Exchange™ and Via Benefits™ meet all of these standards, which fall under 7 key areas:
Agent Compensation and Anti-Steering Standards
Agent Compensation and Anti-Steering Standards are designed to ensure that consumers are not inappropriately “steered” to buy insurance products because of higher compensation received by agents and/or the brokerage service from particular companies. Unlike many insurance brokers, only a small fraction of an agent’s total compensation will be tied to sales volume, and agents won’t be paid differently based on the specific company or plan they recommend. They will also ensure that consumers are not unduly pressured to purchase plans either before they are ready or if there isn’t a compelling reason for them to switch plans.
Agent Training and Quality Assurance Standards
Agent Training and Quality Assurance Standards are designed to ensure that consumers are assisted by agents who are highly trained and continually monitored for excellent performance. These standards go beyond what is required for licensure and include additional modules specified by NCOA.
Carrier Representation Standards
Carrier Representation Standards are designed to ensure that consumers can choose from a broad range of the best coverage options available to them. If there are high-quality plans not represented by the brokerage service, NCOA will inform consumers of what they are and how to contact the plans directly. The brokerage service may not discourage consumers from pursuing coverage from carriers not represented by the broker.
Consumer Advocacy Standards
Consumer Advocacy Standards are designed to ensure that customers get additional assistance when they have difficulties with issues such as access to care and prescriptions; claims denials; incorrect payments, authorizations and referrals; and Medicare coordination of benefits. This assistance is provided free of charge to customers of the brokerage service who are in complex situations where traditional support channels have not been successful.
Consumer Education and Decision-Support Standards
Consumer Education and Decision-Support Standards are designed to ensure that consumers (via the website and telephone) will have comprehensive information about coverage options and plan choices that is logical, clear, consumer-focused, unbiased and based on individual needs, preferences and circumstances. Critical to this process are understanding the person’s individual situation and how it affects decision-making about Medicare and supplemental insurance, as well as evaluating, comparing and selecting specific insurance plans.
Customer Service and Support Standards
Customer Service and Support Standards are designed to ensure that customers receive excellent and prompt service that is available in many languages and accessible for the hearing impaired.
Regulatory Compliance Standards
Regulatory Compliance Standards are designed to ensure that the brokerage and its agents comply with all relevant Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and state insurance regulations and notification requirements.
About the Consumer Advisory Panel
The My Medicare Matters Advisory Panel is composed of a small group of leading experts who are helping NCOA Services to develop and implement this new service designed to help millions of Medicare beneficiaries make informed choices about Medicare, supplemental insurance and other available resources and programs.
The Advisory Panel has three primary roles:
- Help NCOA to develop Standards of Excellence for a quality, unbiased health insurance brokerage service for Medicare beneficiaries
- Advise NCOA Services on creating an exceptional education and decision-support website for consumers who are new to Medicare, as well as current enrollees
- Advise NCOA and NCOA Services on strategies for developing partnerships with other nonprofits to reach and serve Medicare beneficiaries
Advisory Panel Members:
- Bonnie Burns has more than 25 years of experience in Medicare, Medicare supplemental insurance and long-term care insurance. Burns has served for several years as a consumer representative on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. She actively promotes improved consumer protection in state and federal legislative efforts affecting Medicare supplemental and long-term care insurance products. Burns has extensive experience in the research and development of educational material addressing Medicare and related topics, writing various consumer materials for consumer groups and public agencies in California and other states. She is regarded as a national expert in her field and, in addition to her own written materials, has been quoted in many national publications and broadcast media outlets. In August 2001, she was awarded the national Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ “Beneficiary Services Certificate of Merit” for her dedication and excellence.
- Gail Shearer is an independent health policy advisor. From 1985 to 2009 she worked at Consumers Union, where she served as Director of Health Policy Analysis and Director of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs. She wrote reports on health policy topics, including healthcare reform, Medigap, long-term care and Medicare prescription drugs. She advocated on behalf of healthcare consumers before Congress and federal agencies. Shearer has also been a Senior Advisor to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. She is a graduate of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and Smith College.
- James Firman has been President and CEO of the National Council on Aging since 1995. Under his leadership, NCOA has developed many nationally acclaimed programs to improve the health, independence and economic security of older adults. From 1985-1995, Firman served as founder and CEO of the United Seniors Health Cooperative (USHC), a nonprofit consumer organization. At USHC, he oversaw the development of one of the nation’s first insurance counseling programs for older adults, which helped lead to the development of the national Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP). As an advocate, he significantly influenced the development of Federal Medigap legislation and long-term care insurance regulations throughout the United States.
- Leslie Fried is Director of the National Center for Benefits Outreach and Enrollment, which leads and supports efforts across the country to find and enroll seniors and people with disabilities in public benefits that they may have missed out on. Prior to joining NCOA, Fried was a senior attorney with the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Law and Aging. She joined the ABA in 1998 as the Medicare Advocacy Project attorney.
- Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, is director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform; a Senior Fellow, Economic Studies; and Leonard D. Schaeffer Director’s Chair in Health Policy at the Brookings Institution. He is the former administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A physician and scholar, he is best known for leading implementation of the Medicare prescription drug program and for his tireless efforts to promote disease prevention. McClellan also served as commissioner for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and as an advisor to Presidents George W. Bush and William Clinton.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do your partners benefit from this alliance?
Our partners, Aon Retiree Health Exchange™ and Via Benefits™ are private marketplaces for people shopping for Medicare-related health coverage. Through their linkage with MyMedicareMatters.org, Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits will each be able to reach more people who are looking for assistance in finding a Medicare plan that fits their healthcare, financial and lifestyle objectives. The educational resources of My Medicare Matters and the Medicare Questionnaire will help better inform consumers so that when they reach out to our partners, Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits, they have a better understanding of their personal situation and what they are looking for in a plan.
Does this pose a conflict of interest for NCOA?
No. NCOA Services is not steering people with Medicare to any one plan and will not be compensated on the basis of whether consumers purchase a plan. This is very much in line with NCOA’s other activities—which are designed to provide people with the best possible information and help them make better decisions. The collaboration between NCOA Services and our partners, Aon Retiree Health Exchange™ and Via Benefits™, will educate people with Medicare and help them more easily identify a plan that meets their needs. In this way, we expect to make the marketplace work better for people with Medicare.
How does NCOA benefit from this alliance and how does it get paid?
Through My Medicare Matters, NCOA Services educates people with Medicare about their options and helps them understand what decisions they need to make and when. NCOA Services lets them know about the assistance they can get from Medicare.gov and State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs). NCOA Services also lets them know about the insurance plans that our partners, Aon Retiree Health Exchange™ and Via Benefits™ do and do not represent.
NCOA Services is reimbursed by our partners for the costs of providing educational and decision-support services through the My Medicare Matters website and also receive fees, including annual sponsorship fees. Importantly, these fees are not based upon the number of people who choose to use our partners’ complementary advisory services or who enroll in plans. Most of the proceeds received will be used to support NCOA’s charitable mission and programs and to help NCOA achieve its goal of improving the health, independence and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020.
How long will the NCOA Services and Aon Retiree Health Exchange alliance continue?
NCOA Services and their partners, Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits are committed to making it much easier for people with Medicare to make informed and confident choices about their health coverage and make the most of that coverage. We anticipate working with Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits over the long term to offer this service to people with Medicare. It also fits into NCOA’s goal to improve the lives of 10 million seniors by 2020.
Is NCOA selling email lists to their partners? How can you assure the anonymity and privacy of the individuals who visit MyMedicareMatters.org?
Is NCOA Services encouraging visitors to the website to purchase directly from Aon Retiree Health Exchange™ or Via Benefits™?
No. NCOA Services recognizes that some visitors may find that their current plan is best for them. For those who should or want to shop around, in most cases, NCOA Services will recommend three options: (1) Medicare.gov, (2) the consumer’s local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), and (3) our partners, Aon Retiree Health Exchange or Via Benefits, licensed insurance brokerages that meet NCOA’s Standards of Excellence. NCOA Services does not intend to steer people with Medicare away from their current plan or to any one plan or resource for more information. Rather, we are helping people understand their situation better, educating them about their available choices and giving them options for finding plans that best meet their needs and circumstances.
Is this different from other NCOA partnerships?
Yes and no. NCOA is the national leader in providing web and decision-support tools to help older adults make better use of available resources. Since 2001, NCOA has offered BenefitsCheckUp®, an online screening service that has helped more than 3.6 million people identify more than $16 billion in missing benefits. We rely on both corporate and government support to offer BenefitsCheckUp® at no cost to the general public. In 2006, with support from AstraZeneca, NCOA created the My Medicare Matters website, which older adults and aging professionals have come to trust for information about Medicare.
NCOA is allying with a corporation to tackle an important problem by jointly developing and providing an ongoing service to help improve the marketplace for the benefit of older consumers. Our goal is to better educate people with Medicare about their choices, help them make more informed decisions and select health and prescription drug plans best suited for their needs.
Isn’t this something that SHIPs already do? Why does NCOA have to do this?
State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) offer a version of these services, but most rely on a combination of volunteers and staff to assist consumers, and many are very under-resourced. NCOA Services plans to make the My Medicare Matters website and decision-support tools available for SHIPs to use, as well as explore other ways we might coordinate efforts with SHIPs.
Why did NCOA Services choose to work with Aon Retiree Health Exchange™ and Via Benefits™?
NCOA’s goal is to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. NCOA has long believed that the best way to have a large social impact is to bring together nonprofits, businesses, and government using models that create a “win” both for older adults and for the organizations themselves. NCOA has been partnering successfully, and transparently, with for-profit organizations for years. The alliances between NCOA Services and both Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits is another way for NCOA to help people with Medicare save money and get more out of health coverage by improving the Medicare marketplace. These alliances are also a way to raise revenues for NCOA by investing in NCOA’s charitable activities to help and advocate for disadvantaged and vulnerable seniors.
NCOA selected Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits as partners because each has a strong track record of serving people with Medicare. Aon Retiree Health Exchange has assisted over 300,000 Medicare eligible people and Via Benefits has helped over 1.8 million people with their Medicare coverage. Both meet all of NCOA’s Standards of Excellence for a Medicare marketplace and are compliant with the standards by NCOA Services. Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits are unbiased insurance brokerages and consciously structure their services to avoid steering consumers to one plan over another. Our partners also represent most of the major health plans in the nation and carry plans with the highest quality ratings. Both organizations and their parent companies have a distinguished history of creating innovative solutions that make benefit choices easier for individuals and have been providing high-quality service to employees and retirees of large corporations for decades. Now this same level of service will be available to Medicare-eligible people nationwide.
Why has NCOA Services formed an alliance with both Aon Retiree Health Exchange™ and Via Benefits™?
NCOA Services has entered into a strategic alliance with both Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits to make it much easier for people with Medicare to make informed and confident choices about their health coverage and make the most of that coverage. The service includes education and decision support provided by NCOA Services tools on MyMedicareMatters.org and, for those who choose it, personal, one-on-one assistance from Benefits Advisors (who are also licensed insurance agents).
Why is this service important now?
Today, millions of Medicare beneficiaries find the process of selecting coverage so difficult and overwhelming that they simply give up and guess or choose the wrong plan out of frustration. The wrong decisions can cost them hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year. The National Bureau of Economic Research reports that 90% of people with Medicare prescription drug coverage lost an average of $300 a year because of suboptimal plan choices, and a significant number make mistakes that cost them more than $1,000 annually. Consumers spend even more money on Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans. Aon research shows that 60% of people with Medicare say they are overwhelmed by the process of choosing a health plan.
The 10,000 Baby Boomers who are becoming eligible for Medicare every day need access to unbiased and accurate information about Medicare and their health coverage options. They need easy-to-use decision-support tools that empower them to make informed and confident choices quickly and easily.
Why should people with Medicare trust this service?
NCOA is comfortable recommending this service to consumers who want to (a) learn more about their Medicare coverage options, (b) identify the type of plan that best meets their needs and, if desired, (c) enroll in Medicare supplemental coverage. To ensure that people with Medicare are protected and get the best possible service, NCOA worked closely with the My Medicare Matters Advisory Panel—an advisory board comprised of some of the nation’s most renowned consumer advocates—to create Standards of Excellence for the Medicare marketplace. The Standards of Excellence include strong consumer education and agent training, as well as additional requirements that are designed to help ensure consumers are provided a high-quality, unbiased service. Our partners, Aon Retiree Health Exchange™ and Via Benefits™ have agreed to fully meet the Standards of Excellence, and NCOA Services will monitor compliance with these standards. In addition, Aon Retiree Health Exchange and Via Benefits represent the majority of health plans in the nation, particularly those that have four- to five-star ratings from CMS. NCOA Services will inform consumers about other four- and five-star rated plans not covered by our partners.