Agents create and use a variety of marketing materials to advertise Medicare Advantage and Part D products.
These include, but are not limited to, letters, postcards, posters, brochures, scripts, radio and television ads, billboards, banners, signs, yellow page ads, church bulletin ads and websites.
Any marketing material that is an advertisement must follow the CMS Medicare Marketing Guidelines. See below for some direction in this area.
Marketing Materials Guidance
Branded vs. Generic Marketing Material
- Branded material — marketing material that contains carrier and/or product information (e.g., plan name, plan costs/benefits). Must be CMS approved.
- Generic material — self-created marketing material that is free of any plan or product information, brands or carrier logos (e.g., agent’s flyer for his/her business). Does not need to be CMS approved, but must comply with CMS guidelines.
Note: MA and PDP carriers may allow use of their logo in certain circumstances such as websites, but agents must get carrier approval first.
- “Not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program.” — should be on all generic marketing materials
- “This is an advertisement” — is required for all mailers; must be on the front of the envelope or postcard
- If a phone number is listed on an advertisement, it must be obvious to the consumer they will be calling an insurance agent. If not obvious, must use a disclaimer like “Call 800-786-5566 to speak with one of our insurance agents today.”
- If you are trying to obtain Permission to Contact through a business reply card, there must be a statement informing the customer who will contact them and by what method. Recommended statement: “By providing the information above, I give permission for a licensed sales agent to contact me by phone or email to discuss Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug Plans.”
Prohibited Marketing Content
- Agent titles — CMS prohibits the use of the word “Medicare” and/or any language that implies additional knowledge, skill or certification above licensing requirements. Example — “Medicare Specialist”; “Medicare Advisor”
- Use of government symbols — Consumer facing material cannot mimic or resemble a CMS or government agency design. Use of symbols (e.g., American flag, eagle or Medicare ID card) is strictly prohibited.
Websites/ Social Media
Consumer-facing websites and social media are held to the same regulations as traditional marketing materials. CMS Medicare Marketing Guidelines apply, as well as carrier rules. All websites and social media pages should be kept generic, should not post any plan or benefit information and should not use of carrier logos without prior approval. If you have additional questions about website or social media advertising, don’t hesitate to contact the SMS Compliance Department.
Electronic business reply cards must adhere to the same regulations as traditional business reply cards.
Website Registration Requirements — Agents are required to report any third party marketing or enrollment websites that include Medicare lead generation to the MA-PD carriers.
A social media page is much like a website page. Agents CAN list the name and address of their business and indicate the type of product offered (e.g., Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug Plans, Medicare Supplement insurance plans, etc.) offered. Agents still have to be otherwise compliant with CMS rules, though (clearly identifies as a licensed insurance agent, has the necessary disclaimer “Not connected with or endorsed by the United States government or the federal Medicare program.” etc.).
There are a few other limitations to keep in mind regarding unsolicited contact:
- CMS guidelines state that if an individual comments, likes or follows on social media, this does not constitute agreement to receive any communications. So a consumer liking or commenting on a Facebook page does not give the agent permission to contact.
- Agents must not reach out to potential clients with an advertisement through Facebook messaging.
Agents are required to report social media pages to the MA-PD/Part D carriers, akin to reporting their other websites.
Business Cards: Tips
- Governed by state law
- If you are listing carrier names or logos, you need carrier approval, and response time is often long and tough to get
- Identify yourself as an insurance agent or independent insurance agent
- Do not give off the impression that you are part of the federal government or state government
- MA guidelines do not apply if using business card in the traditional sense. But, if you post your business card like an ad in the newspaper or use it as a marketing piece than CMS marketing guidelines do apply. The business card may not be attached, i.e. stapled or paper clipped, to CMS approved marketing pieces or enrollment forms. It can be included in the envelope, though
- In CA, need license number on business card
***The SMS Compliance Department is happy to review agent proposed marketing materials and/or act as a conduit to submit to the carrier for review and approval. Send inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org**