Everything You Need to Know About the New 2017 Medicare Marketing Guidelines

Jul 29, 2016 |

Sayaka Page

Sayaka Page

AGA Compliance Officer

As I’m sure you know by now, CMS has released the 2017 Medicare Marketing Guidelines (MMG). I’m also sure you’ve already poured over the changes—but just in case, we’re here to provide a happy reminder. Keep reading to get the low-down on the must-know updates.

Guideline Amendments

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).

AGA 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).

Social Media

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 2017 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.

Until next time!

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Jul 29, 2016 | | 4 comments

4 Comments

  1. TOmas A Lara

    I think this is very practical and useful. You are saving us a lot of problms

    Reply
    • AGA

      Just doing our job, Tomas! Glad to hear you enjoyed this post. Be sure to subscribe to get new blogs emailed to you as soon as they’re posted!

      Reply
  2. Julian

    Hello

    Am I able to approach and invite individuals at the supermarket or Dr’s office to my Pie Events and give them the number to register for the event?
    Am I able to ask friends through Facebook or via text to have their parents or others they may know to contact me? I am new to the Medicare arena which is very different than other insurance.

    Reply
    • AGA

      Hi Julian,

      Thanks for your questions!

      First, an agent cannot openly solicit strangers to invite them to events. If he or she wants to leave flyers that the grocery store or other venues would like to post, he or she can do that compliantly.

      An agent can post a version of our pie event advertisement on her/his Facebook page (since it has already been approved by CMS), but directly connecting with them without consent for Medicare Advantage advertising is not compliant.

      Hope that helps! Best of luck.

      Reply

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