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National Medicare and You Education Program (NMEP) case study sites assessment

Margaret Gerteis, PhD1, Vasudha Narayanan2, Kimberly Derwinski3, Elizabeth Goldstein, PhD4, and Suzanne Rotwein, PhD4. (1) Health Services Research and Policy Group, BearingPoint, 99 High Stret, Boston, MA 02110, 617-988-1331, mgerteisphd@bearingpoint.net, (2) Westat, 1650 Research Blvd., Rockville, MD 20850, (3) Ketchum Public Relations, 2000 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, (4) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21244

Research Objective: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created NMEP in 1998 to inform the public about Medicare policies, procedures, and changes to the program. The purpose of the case study sites assessment was to assess how components of NMEP worked at the local level, and how they meshed with beneficiariesí information-seeking behavior.

Study Design: 1) Monitoring and analysis of Medicare-related content of print and broadcast media; 2) yearly telephone survey of beneficiaries in study communities; 3) site visits to collect qualitative data through diaries, in-depth interviews, passive participant observation, focus groups, and key informant interviews.

Population Studied: Medicare beneficiaries and key information intermediaries in Dayton, OH; Springfield, MA; Sarasota, FL; Tucson, AZ; Eugene, OR; and Olympia, WA.

Principal Findings: Although use and recognition of the Medicare & You handbook increased dramatically during the study period, use of the toll-free Medicare telephone number, consumer website, and local senior counselors remained limited. Beneficiaries continue to seek information from other local sources, including health plans, physicians, friends and family, and Social Security offices. The search for information is prompted by health problems or financial difficulties. Media coverage of Medicare is limited and often negative.

Conclusions: Sources of Medicare information at study sites are many and fragmented; mass media do not reliably convey Medicare information; and confusion about basic features of Medicare is common. Findings suggest the need to better inform information intermediaries at the local level, and to focus media outreach on information specific to local issues.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Communication Evaluation, Media Campaigns

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, National Medicare & You Education Program
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Handout (.ppt format, 220.0 kb)

Theory and Research in Health Communication

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA