2019 Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines Update

On April 12th CMS issued a “Request for Input on the 2019 Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines”. There are several notable issues related to the sales and marketing process CMS requested comment on. In addition to those issues the fact that they have changed the name of the annually updated document from “Medicare Marketing Guidelines to “Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines” indicates an acknowledgement that the guidelines address a wide range of issues related to marketing and communication to beneficiaries.

Below are highlights from the CMS memo:

  1. CMS proposes removing the restriction on requesting email addresses when asking for referrals from enrollees.
    Comment: Not a surprise here with the change to permit email marketing in 2018.
  2. CMS proposes allowing Plans/Part D Sponsors to announce a nominal gift may be offered to enrollees for a referral when soliciting leads.
    Comment: Allowing a nominal gift for a referral and allowing for the collection of an email address for those referrals/leads is a break from historically restrictive marketing rules.
  3. CMS proposes updating the font size rule to only apply to required documents.
    Comment: No huge impact here for agents/brokers other than additional flexibility with respect to marketing pieces.
  4. CMS proposes permitting agents to disseminate contact information at educational events.
    Comment: A further break from historically restrictive marketing rules, this allows agents the opportunity to provide seniors attending educational events an easy way to contact them for follow up questions or further information.

In addition to the issues above there were several others but they do not have a material impact on the sales and marketing process. with. The focus of the additional issues is on carrier operational issues, disclaimers and clarification of previous regulations.

The complete CMS Memo can be found here.

As a member of the NAHU Medicare Principals Council, Graham Smith, UIG Vice President, Brokerage, worked with NAHU to provide comment to CMS on these issues.