Medicare Marketing Guidelines - Changes For 2019 -
Rules Renamed to "Medicare Communications & Marketing Guidelines"
The Medicare Marketing Guidelines (MMG) have seen some significant changes for 2019. The MMG, which governs Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAO) and Plan D sponsors, were also re-named to Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMG) for 2019.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some important changes to the regulations that you should be aware of moving forward.
Below, I have highlighted some of what we consider the most relevant changes to the guidelines. It is not an exhaustive list, but I think it’s a good place to start.
[ Note: Plans/Part D sponsors may impose additional restrictions on their subcontractors, downstream entities, and/or delegated entities, provided they do not conflict with the requirements outlined in the MCMG. ]
Let's look into some of the changes to the Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines:
20 – Communications and Marketing Definitions:
The most obvious change to this section is the distinction between Communications activities and Marketing activities. Communications activities do not need to be submitted for CMS review.
The MCMG defines Communications as:
Activities and use of materials to provide information to current and prospective enrollees. This is the more generic of the two categories and does not require CMS review. This can be seen as a loosening of the restrictions.
An example of Communications could be activities/materials that promote awareness of MA plans in general and the fact that you offer that type of plan.
The MCMG defines Marketing as:
Marketing can be considered a subset of Communications and provides more detailed information. Marketing materials are those that could include information on a plan’s benefit structure, cost sharing and measuring or ranking standards. These types of materials are subject to CMS review.
An example of marketing materials would be a flyer that provides specific details about a plan’s benefits, cost sharing or ranking standards.
Put another way, marketing materials are those with an intent to draw a beneficiary’s attention to a MA plan or plans to influence a beneficiary’s decision-making process when selecting and enrolling in a plan or deciding to stay in a plan and contain information about the plan’s benefit structure, cost sharing, and measuring or ranking standards.
30.6 – Electronic communication Policy:
Section 30.6 explains that a sponsor may initiate contactvia email to prospective enrollees and to retain enrollment for current enrollees.
It also notes that text messaging and other electronic messaging (social media) is considered unsolicited and is not permitted.
40.2 – Marketing Through Unsolicited Contacts:
As in 30.6 above, Section 40.2 adds email to the list of allowable unsolicited contact methods, as long as there is an opt-out function in the email.
This section also clarifies that unsolicited text messages are not permitted.