17 January 2021


This very official-looking document arrived in my mail several days ago.  I knew instinctively that it was not from Medicare, but I also know that it's going to fool a lot of elderly people.  It is almost certainly totally legal, but the disclaimer "This is an advertisement and a solicitation of insurance" is written in about a 6-point font.

I am not anti-business or opposed to clever selling techniques.  My father was a classic traveling salesman with a four-state route, visiting electric utilities to try to sell them transformers.  He was creative in his inducements and rewards to customers, but never to my knowledge deceptive.  I find this kind of crap abhorrent.


  1. My wife likes to watch the home improvement and nostalgia cable channels. They are infested 24/7 with Medicare Advantage Plan promotions (as well as with prescription medicine ads). Lawyers must have written an "official" guide to what advertisers can get away with saying. Every insurance company makes an almost identical pitch using precisely the same words to describe benefits, preceded by the same weasel words, especially the ever-popular "may." If they aren't hosted by Joe Namath and his Dancing Hands, the claims are displayed against stars, stripes, eagles, and every almost-governmental icon in the book. Of course at the bottom of the screen in microscopic type are the disclaimers: "Not affiliated with the United States Government." "Not all benefits available in all states." "This is an insurance ad, you fool."

    This sort of ad bothers the hell out of me. Tom Selleck's earnest, folksy ads pushing reverse mortages are another con job. Only in the last few seconds does a tiny chyron give you the downside: You "may be subject to foreclosure if the property is not maintained or payments are missed." At least on the drug ads one must say this sort of thing aloud.

  2. They leave messages on my answering machine too. easy to spot though because the caller has a scolding tone that could be devastating to someone w/ borderline senility.

  3. I live with my 91yr old father and it is a constant battle to weed this stuff out. Especially the phone calls. Not that my dad is a frail of mind, but he likes to talk to people... trusts them too easily and tells them too much.
    It might be 'business' but it has not ethics at all.

  4. Add to the list of scammers who should have been saving their money when younger, Chris Berman and Ice-T who both waste our time with long Car Shield ads or the insurance you don't need.

  5. I used to work in administration at an insurance agency who's main income was from selling these policies. The agents ranged from naive (newer agents) to full-blown sociopaths. I left after less than two open enrollment seasons because my soul was crushed from the daily manipulation and encouragement of terrible behaviors, as long as it made money.


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