The rules for marketing Medicare stay the same each year. The fundamentals haven’t changed. What does change from year to year is how specific these rules are. As the rules become more defined, you’re required to exemplify your understanding on your annual AHIP exams (necessary for carrier certifications). It’s important to stay in the loop with changes so you can pass your AHIP (be able to sell Medicare), stay compliant, and provide the right information to your clients.
It’s easy to see what clarifications have been made; any text in red is a new addendum that should be noted. Sometimes, an amended section could just mean a minor change in verbiage, but it’s important that any and all changes should be reviewed and understood each year.
See the complete 2017 CMS guidelines here.
2017 Medicare Marketing Guidelines: Key Take-Aways
We’ve highlighted a few significant updates for 2017 to keep in your back pocket for reference. Take note of these important addendums pertaining to: Medicare marketing materials, practices in the field, agent compensation, and social media.
Medicare Marketing Materials
2017 Medicare Marketing Guidelines; Page 3 (Section 10: Introduction):
“While the “approved” (or “accepted”) designation provided to submitted marketing materials does not have an expiration date, the status remains valid only as long as the material remains compliant with the most current law and version of the MMG. Plans/Part D Sponsors have responsibility to review older submissions that are still in active use to ensure that they are compliant with the latest version of the MMG, and to resubmit those materials with the needed corrections when they are not.”
Be mindful when submitting requests for and pre-ordering marketing materials. If there’s been even a small shift in the rule description, materials need to be submitted all over again. Keep your eye on the carrier tips we post on the Agent Portal. We provide a breakdown on carrier guidelines as they become available.
Medicare Marketing Practices in the Field
Section 70 (Promotional Activities, Rewards, Incentives, Events and Outreach) is an important section to refer to, although nothing has changed much. You’ve probably seen this one multiple times before. But because the way you interact with the Medicare market is so important, we can’t stress it enough.
Read through the minor amendments made to the verbiage on this section (which can be seen on pages 43-58).
Advantage Plus works hard to make sure our agents remain protected. Compliant marketing practices are fully integrated with our events department to make sure you’re promoting your services and gaining access to leads in the business the right way.
Medicare Agent Compensation
There have also been updates to Section 120.4.2, Compensation Payment Requirements (page 88). This includes a breakdown on compensation received by carriers. Check out the changes, most of which start on page 90.
You’re going to need to understand these changes for your AHIP exam. For more information on Medicare Agent compensation, be sure to attend one of our AHIP certification training sessions (see our events calendar to find the next session in your area).
As the Medicare market becomes more digital friendly, it’s important to understand how to conduct your sales activity online. When it comes to social media, refer to the rules on print marketing. Any marketing posts on social media need to be approved before-hand.
Similarly, online sales activity should adhere to the same guidelines for in-person sales. If someone engages with your page (likes, shares or comments), it doesn’t mean you can contact them for soliciting Medicare.
2017 Medicare Marketing Guidelines; Page 43-44 (Section 70: Unsolicited Electronic Communication Policy):
“If an individual comments, likes or follows a Plan/Part D Sponsor on social media, this does not constitute agreement to receive Plan/Part D Sponsor communications outside of the public social 44 media forum. Plans/Part D Sponsors may not initiate separate communications to specific social media users. Pop-ups or targeted advertisements that comply with all marketing rules are permitted.”
Always be sure to use your Scope of Sales Appointment (SOA) forms. And remember—operating in the online space doesn’t change the required communication standards.
I hope these tips were useful! Be sure to make note of all the changes that will affect your day-to-day sales and marketing activities. I suggest you give the 2018 Medicare Marketing Guidelines a complete read to verify your understanding of what’s expected of carriers, your agency, and yourself as the agent. And if you’re ever unsure if what you’re doing is compliant or not—just ask.