How Do Service Areas Affect Your Medicare Marketing?


Advertising for Medicare enrollment is a great way to get your name out to your community. It’s also a great way to increase your Medicare sales. As you may already know, brokers cannot start advertising for the upcoming Medicare enrollment period until October 1. But did you know that brokers also cannot advertise outside of their service areas?

Where Can Brokers Market for Medicare Enrollment?

The Medicare Marketing Guidelines (MMG, Section 30.1) prohibit brokers from advertising outside of their defined service areas unless it’s unavoidable. For example, Gail is a broker in Arkansas. Her defined service area covers the northwest counties in the state. Gail cannot put out an advertisement in the local newspaper for Sonoma County, California.

Service areas are defined by the carrier or carriers offering a product in that area. Agents may advertise statewide with these stipulations:

  • If you use a generic mailer or television advertisement, then you may advertise in any county that offers Medicare Advantage plans that you are appointed with.
  • If you use a carrier-branded mailer or television advertisement, then you may only advertise within counties the carrier you’re affiliated with has plans filed in.

What Are Unavoidable Out-of-Area Advertisement Situations?

The MMG gives the following examples for situations where out-of-area advertising is unavoidable:

  • Advertising in print with a national audience
  • Advertising in broadcast media with a national audience
  • Advertising to an overall in-service audience that includes individuals out of your service area
    • For example, metropolitan print and broadcast media often cover multiple regions.

What Must Brokers Do in an Unavoidable Situation?

If you cannot limit your advertisements to only those in your service area, you must include a disclosure. The disclosure must clearly state your service area in the marketing material (whether it is a print, radio, or television advertisement).

Keep in mind that it is rare for brokers to run into unavoidable out-of-area situations, such as the ones listed above, while marketing for AEP. For example, Gail, the Arkansas-based broker, is running television ads marketing her AEP services. This television ad is also broadcasting in neighboring Louisiana, where Gail is not licensed. In this instance, Gail would include a statement within the ad defining her service area as Arkansas.

While brokers may not have control over television broadcast areas, they can control the direct mail they send when marketing for Medicare. Let’s say the carrier that Gail is contracted with covers all but two of Arkansas’ 75 counties. If she sends direct mail to potential and current enrollees throughout Arkansas, she must ensure that these marketing materials are not sent to residents of the two counties not covered by the carrier she’s partnered with.

Learn More With Excelsior Today

To find more Medicare marketing guidelines on topics ranging from documenting a Scope of Appointment to direct marketing, visit our online resource center. To learn more about the Excelsior team and how we can help you, contact us.


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References
https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Health-Plans/ManagedCareMarketing/Downloads/CY-2018-Medicare-Marketing-Guidelines_Final072017.pdf

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