Medicare Marketing Guidelines 2021
The Medicare Marketing Guidelines 2021 are the same as the 2020 MCMG. To date, CMS has not released an update or memo for 2021. The most recent memo from CMS is available below through the link. Compliance is an important aspect of offering Medicare plans. We have tried to list the more common questions and aspects of the guidelines below.
Medicare Marketing Guidelines 2021: Permission to contact
Agents are now able to make unsolicited contact with a prospects for MA, MAPD and PDP via email. However, the does need to have an opt out option in option to be compliant. In addition, an email should not be intended to steer someone into a specific plan. It should focus more on promoting your services and general information about Medicare. Agents are still not able to make unsolicited contact to prospects for MA, MAPD or PDP by phone or in person in common areas.
In order to initiate conversations with prospects in person or by phone you will need to have permission to call/contact (PTC). PTC can be obtained through flyers, business reply cards, PTC forms online leads (Likes or shares on social media platforms are not valid) from vendors and other methods that prospects use to initiate contact. PTC forms can now be used for more than one enrollment period. For example, the same PTC can be used during AEP and OEP.
Be careful not to confuse a PTC with a Scope of appointment form. (SOA) The PTC is used to start contact with a prospect. The SOA is used to document the type of products you will be discussing once you have a meeting.
How and When a SOA is needed
A Scope of Appointment form is used to document the types of plans you will be discussing with the client or prospect. The purpose of the SOA is to ensure you will not be discussing products with the client/prospect other than those chosen prior to the appointment. There is no longer a rule that the SOA needs to be submitted 48 hours prior to the sales appointment. Same day scopes of compliant. Make sure to do the scope form prior to starting the meeting however.
SOA’s are needed for every face to face meeting. They are even needed if the meeting did not result in a sale. You also need a scope for phone meetings and virtual meetings. In other words, if you are talking Medicare with someone get a scope. Better to have one every time to be safe.
What if a client would like to talk about additional or different products? Simply sign another scope documenting those products and continue the appointment. This works for health type products only however. If they would like to review non health related products such as life insurance, LTC, annuity, etc. a new appointment will need to be made.
Medicare Marketing Guidelines 2021- When to market
CMS also has rules for when you are allowed to market products and the way you can do it. For starters, you must wait until October 1 to market, talk about or review the new plans for the coming year for AEP. You are able to start taking/submitting applications on October 15th. January 1 through March 31 is considered the OEP. For information on the Medicare Open Enrollment Period Click Here
Communications vs. Marketing
CMS considers communications and marketing to be two different things. The difference between the two is the material used and intent of the material. Communication pieces are more general and provide non specific information. They cannot include plan specific information and cannot be intended to steer someone towards a specific plan. If the materials are not generic in nature they will be considered marketing and require CMS review. Communication materials do not require CMS approval. Stay away from using any absolute statements on materials or during presentations.
Agents should also avoid using the word “free” when talking about $0 premium plans. “Free” should also not be included in any description of part B premium, part B reduction plans or dual eligible status.
You also must discuss the current star rating of plans and let the prospect know that it is out of 5 stars. “This plan has been rated 3.5 out of 5 stars”. The consumer must also know if the plan is considered an low performing plan.
Medicare Marketing Guidelines 2021: Types of events and appointments
Meetings and presentation fall under one of three categories. They are educational events, sales events and individual appointments.
Providing general information about the Medicare program would be considered an educational event.
Sales events, on the other hand, are designed to steer, or attempt to steer potential enrollees towards a limited set of plans. During a sales event:
Sales events are an attempt to steer someone into a specific plan. If you are showing plan specific details such as benefits or premiums you are engaging in a sales event.
If you hold or are presenting in a sales event format be sure to follow the rules:
Things to do at a sales event
- Report the event prior to conducting and advertising it
- Follow cancellation procedure rules
- Use only approved materials
- You can distribute and collect applications
- Call attendees from the sales event if they provided permission to contact (Gave you a PTC card or flyer)
Avoid the following
- You cannot offer meals. Only light snacks and refreshments. (You can offer meals at educational events)
- Avoid absolute statements “This is the best Medicare Advantage plan”
- Avoid pressuring people to sign up
- Only promote health based products
- You must have a sign in sheet but cannot require anyone to sign in
Agents are now allowed to have sales event immediately following an educational event. You need a scope for any type of sales event. Even for events held by phone only.
CMS requires all marketing websites to be submitted for review. Reviews are done through the carriers in most cases. We provide agents with their own compliant website through Connect4Medicare. The site is specific and codded to you the agent. Prospects and clients can compare plans (Advantage, supplement and part D), check on benefits, check doctors and Medications. In addition, they can compare drug plans in a manner similar to the Medicare drug plan finder site. Lastly, prospects can enroll through the site into any of the plans you are certified to offer. The agent will be the broker of record on any enrollment.
Need access to leads and someone to pay for them?
Crowe and Associates offers a free Medicare lead program. Full commission (directly from the carriers) and no minimum production needed to start.