Marketing is essential for any business, and Medicare is no exception. Successful marketing can make your Medicare business flourish. With approximately 11,000 Medicare eligible people aging into Medicare EACH DAY, you should be marketing and letting current and future Medicare recipients know you can help them make informed decisions and sign up for a plan.
As a Medicare agent, you probably already know how many rules and regulations accompany Medicare, and marketing Medicare is no exception. Be sure you know what you can and cannot do to promote your services and the plans you’re are selling to stay compliant.
Solicited versus Unsolicited.
This section will explain the difference between what is considered a solicited and an unsolicited contact and how you can market to each of them.
Unsolicited Contact: The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) states that agents cannot make direct unsolicited contact. This is anyone who has NOT given explicit permission to contact.
Solicited Contact: This includes anyone who has given explicit permission for the agent to contact them or scheduled a Medicare sales appointment.
If you have not received prior permission to contact, you cannot partake in the following types of marketing tactics:
- Do Not engage in door-to-door solicitations.
- Do Not engage in telephone solicitations, including voice mails or text messages.
- Do Not approach and solicit Medicare Beneficiaries in common/ public areas.
- Do Not call expired Permission to Contact lists.
The good news is that you can still market current and future Medicare beneficiaries, regardless of prior contact via the following ways.
- Do market and generate leads through conventional mailings (i.e. postcards): This is a great way to reach a larger group of Medicare Beneficiaries to let them know who you are and what you offer.
- Do market and generate leads via your website: Having an online presence is important for potential clients to find you and learn more about you and your services.
- Do market and generate leads via email: Email communication is a newly allowed form of marketing as of 2019. However, all email communication must include the option to Opt-out. If you have a website, including rich information and content to attract online shoppers can help build your email list when they sign up for more information.
- Do use print media: This includes newspaper or magazine ads to market and generate leads.
Current book of business: It is important to note that if you have current existing customers through a separate book of business, such as Property and Casualty insurance or life insurance, then you already have a relationship with them and you are allowed to make contact to cross-sell Medicare. Read our other blog on Cross-selling HERE.
Marketing Content: Generic vs. Plan Specific
Now that you know the Dos and Don’ts on marketing strategies for your Medicare business, let’s look at the information you can or cannot include on your materials. CMS differentiates between two types of marketing materials; Those intended as Generic communication content and those intended for marketing specific plans by the Insurance Provider. It is important to understand the difference between the two.
Generic Content refers to materials that are designed to communicate generic information about Medicare, benefits, and the different types of coverage options, including Medicare Advantage, Part D Prescription Drug Plans, and Medicare Supplements.
Plan Specific Materials refer to the “use of materials by the Plan/Part D sponsor with the intent to draw a beneficiary’s attention to a plan or plans and to influence a beneficiary’s decision-making process when selecting a plan for enrollment or deciding to stay enrolled in a plan.” Basically, anything that references specific provider plans.
Let’s take a look at the Do’s and Don’ts for each of these materials.
The Do’s and Don’ts for Generic Materials
- Do Not include plan specific information on generic materials.
- Do Not include a specific plan name, benefit structure or cost sharing on generic materials.
- Do Not include measuring or ranking standards on generic materials.
- Do include generic information about Medicare options.
- Do include information about your services.
- Do state that you are a licensed agent.
- Do state which types of coverage options you can offer (i.e. MAPD, PDP, but not specific carrier plans)
- Do include any applicable disclaimers, such as “Not connected with or endorsed by the United State Government”
The Do’s and Don’ts for Plan Specific Materials
Plan specific marketing materials can be used IF they have been approved by CMS. Most Medicare Insurance Carriers will have pre-approved, plan specific materials you can access after you are contracted to sell with them.
- Do Not use any plan specific materials that have not been approved by CMS.
- Do Not discriminate by targeting specific enrollees (i.e. do not target higher income areas only)
- Do make sure all applicable CMS required disclosures are included based on CMS approval.
- Do make sure the material is approved by CMS and the Insurance Carrier.
Note on Co-branding: Co-branded materials are a great way to add some legitimacy to your piece with a well-known insurance provider. Most providers will have pre-approved co-branded pieces available to their agents, however, you can always produce your own co-branded piece and have it submitted to the insurance carrier for approval.
Marketing Enrollment Periods: Marketing Timelines
It is particularly important to know when you can market and mention Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), what is considered ROY, and which period you can NEVER market. Here is a final list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you determine when it is okay to market different Medicare Enrollment periods.
- Do Not market Open Enrollment Period (OEP): You cannot send marketing materials that advertises OEP and their option to switch plans.
- Do Not market plan specific AEP materials prior to 10/1
- Do market generic materials anytime for AEP.
- Do market Special Enrollment Periods for Rest of year (ROY). This is important marketing for the 11,000 aging into Medicare daily, as well as people who are low income, moving into a new area, or have another SEP like a Chronic condition.