The worst abuses have been committed by predatory marketers selling the comprehensive policies known as Medicare Advantage plans. The government pays these plans 13 percent more, on average, than the same services would cost in the traditional Medicare program. The subsidies are even more egregious - averaging 17 percent above cost - for the so-called private fee-for-service plans within Medicare Advantage. All told, the unjustified subsidies will cost the government more than $50 billion from 2009 to 2012.
Small wonder that plans use high-pressure tactics to market these lucrative policies. In the worst cases, sales agents have masqueraded as Medicare officials, forged the signatures of elderly clients, switched people from traditional Medicare into private plans that don't include their doctors and barged into homes to pressure semiliterate people into signing. . .