Since 1998, NMEP activities have been monitored using various methods, including surveys, special research projects, and focus groups and interviews with local officials in communities across the country. The program also includes extensive and continued evaluation of beneficiary education activities. As a result of this testing, beneficiaries and CMS partners are routinely asked for the type and formats of information they want as well as for their assessment of the available materials and resources. CMS is also focusing on developing materials and educational opportunities targeted at specific topics and beneficiaries with specific interests.
Despite these evaluations, many NMEP activities remain largely unassessed, and several critical questions about the program are still unanswered. To date, few evaluations have examined what knowledge beneficiaries need to make informed enrollment decisions, to what extent NMEP activities promote informed decision making (IDM), and what the return on investment is for such activities. These are crucial questions because, as the Medicare program continues to grow in complexity, beneficiaries will become increasingly reliant on educational tools and materials in making enrollment decisions. If these tools are ineffective, beneficiaries may make uninformed decisions that lead to excessive program costs and, ultimately, poor health.