When you create your own marketing materials, like business cards, do they need to be submitted for review? It depends on what you’re including. In this article, we’ll explain what the Medicare Marketing Guidelines (sections 10, 30.3, 50.2, and 50.3) say about broker-created materials.
Which Materials Fall Under CMS’ Definition of Marketing Materials?
The Medicare Marketing Guidelines provide a list of items that “may fall under CMS’ definition of marketing materials.” While it is not a complete list of what could require CMS’ review, the list includes:
- General circulation brochures, direct mail, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, billboards, yellow pages, and the Internet
- Scripts and outlines for telemarketing and presentations
- Presentation materials, such as slides and charts
- Promotional materials, such as brochures and leaflets
While this may not directly affect you as a broker, marketing materials also include:
- Membership communication materials
- Communications to enrollees about plan changes and membership activities
- Activities of a carrier’s employees, independent agents or brokers, etc. that guide clients toward a specific plan or plans, or may be paid by a carrier for marketing activities, among others.
Which Broker-Made Materials Have to Be Submitted for Review?
Anything that you create that mentions a plan’s specific benefits has to be submitted for review. But before you start the submission and review process, there are a couple of things you should make sure to include.
First, you may need to include disclaimers. If you mention a plan’s benefits, premium, or out-of-pocket costs, you may need to include one or more of the following disclaimers.
- “This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information.”
- “Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply.”
- “[Benefits, premiums and/or co-payments/co-insurance] may change on January 1 of each year.”
- “You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.”
You can find more disclaimer situations and language in section 50 of the Medicare Marketing Guidelines.
Next, if your marketing materials list your phone number, be sure to clearly state that calling that number will direct an individual to a licensed broker. Your materials may not pass the review process if you forego these necessities.
Getting Your Materials Submitted and Approved
Because Plan/Part D Sponsors are responsible for submitting these materials, you will need to follow these steps before publishing or sharing the materials you’ve created.
- Once you’ve created your marketing materials, you will need to submit them to the carrier you represent.
- The carrier will then submit the materials to CMS.
- If you have included all of the necessary disclaimers and comments, the carrier will likely give you approval to publish or share the documents after the review process is finished. If the carrier or CMS have noticed errors, your materials will need to be changed and resubmitted.
Which Broker-Made Materials Don’t Have to Be Submitted for Review?
There are a number of materials that don’t need to be submitted into the CMS review system, called HPMS. These include:
- Business cards that don’t include specific plan benefits
- Materials that only mention the products you sell (like HMO, PPO, and PDP)
- Exclusion: These materials do not include websites that reference Medicare products, which carriers must submit to CMS for review.
Carriers May Have Their Own Review Rules
Individual carriers might have their own rules about approving broker-created marketing materials. Check with the carriers you represent before sharing or publishing marketing materials.
Ready for More Hands-On Medicare Marketing Guidance?
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Note: For the most current information, see the CMS Medicare Marketing Guidelines.