What are the Differences Between Medicare Educational and Sales Events

Feb 28, 2022

Let’s take a look at the differences between Medicare educational and sales events according to the 2022 Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMG).

Medicare Educational Events

The first thing to remember, educational events are purely for education and communication. Furthermore, these events are for prospective enrollees along with their caregivers and others who may aid in their decision-making. During an educational event, use this time to get to know your market and teach them about the service you provide. That is to say, find out what their needs are and be willing to answer any questions the prospect may have.

During educational events, you may not discuss any specific plans or benefits, and you may not distribute any enrollment forms or carrier marketing materials. However, it is perfectly acceptable to hand out generic marketing material, business cards, and collect contact information via an approved lead card for setting an appointment at a later time.

In addition, be sure that any educational event you hold is labeled and advertised as educational. You are allowed and encouraged to educate clients on the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) from October 1st – December 7th. Of course, make sure that they are aware of important dates and what actions can be taken during each election period. However, this is not the opportunity to make a sale.

Remember, the intent behind educational events should only be to give potential Medicare beneficiaries all of the facts they need to make an informed decision at a future appointment or sales event.

Educational Events Do’s and Don’ts

Let’s start with what you should do at an educational event:

  • Answer questions from those attending the event
  • Give out your business card and contact information
  • Provide refreshments and snacks that qualify as nominal gifts according to CMS
  • Hand out objective materials on Medicare programs
  • Give away promotional items that are not considered marketing materials
  • Schedule marketing appointments

Now, here are some don’ts for educational events:

  • Answer questions beyond what those attending have asked
  • Discuss specific carrier plan benefits or distribute marketing materials
  • Give away rebates or cash prizes
  • Pass out/display sign-in sheet, or collect contact information
  • Hand out enrollment forms
  • Give a one-on-one educational session

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Medicare Sales Events

Now, let’s examine additional differences between Medicare educational and sales events. Please note, sales and marketing events are intended to include discussion of plan-specific information and/or collect enrollment applications. They are broken down into two categories:

  1. Formal sales events – Presenting plan-specific information and benefits to an audience
  2. Informal sales events – Offering plan information by request while at a table, booth, kiosk, RV etc.

Given these points, you are there to help Medicare-eligible individuals in selecting a new Medicare Advantage, Part D, or Medicare Supplement plan for enrollment or help them decide if they should stay enrolled in their current plan. Marketing materials may include information about:

  • carrier benefits
  • benefit structures
  • premiums and cost-sharing
  • comparisons to other plans

When marketing sales events, it is acceptable to send information out through conventional mail, print advertisements, email and digital marketing. Also, If you do decide to contact potential enrollees through email there must be an “opt-out” function. To this end, you cannot distribute flyers or leaflets directly to potential enrollees in a common area, leave them on doorsteps or in mailboxes when it has not been processed through the post office.

Just like with an educational event, a marketing event needs to be clearly advertised as sales. Sales events not only have the informational content that an educational event has, but also the intent on prospective clients signing up for new plans or keeping their current plan.

Sales Activities Do’s and Don’ts

What you should be doing at your sales event:

  • Provide refreshments and snacks
  • Hand out objective, educational materials on Medicare programs
  • Give away promotional items with the plan name, logo, and website/phone number
  • Use sign-in sheets that are clearly marked as optional
  • Name products and plans you are going to talk about
  • Use only carrier-approved presentations and topic points
  • Collect enrollment applications as well as lead and business cards
  • Follow up with attendees provided they gave you permission to contact them
  • Distribute pre-enrollment checklists, multi-language inserts, and summary of benefits with enrollment forms

Here are the don’ts of putting on sales events:

  • Give away rebates or cash prizes
  • Offer or subsidize meals or combinations of food items that make it seem like you are offering a full meal
  • Use the contact information provided for raffles or drawings
  • Require attendees to sign in
  • Compare carrier plans by name without written permission from the other carriers
  • Discuss non-health care related products
  • Collect enrollment applications unless the person enrolling has a valid election
  • Require those attending to fill out enrollment forms or Scope of Appointment (SOA) form

It is important to examine all material – educational, marketing, sales, etc. – and determine the intent behind it. Remember, one of the key differences between Medicare educational and sales events is educational events are only to inform, not to sell.

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