Hosting a Compliant Educational Medicare Event
(See Resources Below)
Holding an educational presentation is a fantastic way to grow your client base, but you must make sure to stay compliant.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have set forth rules
(Medicare Communication & Marketing Guidelines, Section 50.1) on what you can and cannot do when holding Medicare educational events. We’ll cover the ones you need to know as we walk you through how to host a compliant educational event on Medicare.
Market the Event as ‘Educational’ to Enrollees
If you are hosting or reaching out to enrollees for an educational event, CMS requires you to explicitly market the event as “educational.” You can advertise these events via most forms of marketing, including newspaper and radio ads, flyers, and direct mailers.
However, there are a couple guidelines you must follow when marketing educational events:
- All educational events must be explicitly marketed as “educational” to beneficiaries.
- Educational event advertisements and invitations must also contain the following disclaimer: “For accommodations of persons with special needs at meetings call <insert phone and TTY number>.”
Remember that an educational event does not include any of the following sales activities:
- Distributing marketing materials and any material with plan-specific information (such as plan-specific premiums, copayments, or contact information)
- Distributing or collecting enrollment forms
Respond to Questions, But Avoid Plan Specifics
This is where it may become a bit difficult for a broker at an educational event. You are allowed to answer questions that enrollees ask you. Remember, your goal at this event is to educate seniors on their options rather than upsell specific plans.
While your answers should avoid including plan specifics, it may be difficult to sidestep direct questions about benefits, premiums, or copays. If a question seems plan specific and you don’t feel that it will be appropriate to answer that question at an educational event, be honest. Tell the enrollee that you are prohibited from distributing plan-specific information at this time. This is better than breaking CMS guidelines.
Educational Event Do’s and Don’ts
|Hand out objective educational materials on MA, Part D, and other Medicare programs||Display a sign-in sheet or collect contact info (e.g., names, addresses, phone numbers) of attendees — this doesn’t constitute as permission to contact|
|Give away promotional items (that aren’t considered marketing materials) that include plan name, logo, toll-free number, and/or carrier website1||Hand out applications or marketing materials which contain specific plan info (e.g., premiums, copayments, etc.)|
|Answer questions posed by attendees||Answer questions beyond what attendees ask|
|Provide meals, refreshments, or light snacks2||Give away cash or other monetary rebates|
|Provide generic business reply cards to attendees||Provide or collect enrollment forms|
|Give out your business card and contact info for beneficiaries to use to initiate contact (includes completing and collecting a Scope of Appointment)||Discuss any carrier-specific plan or benefits or distribute marketing plan materials|
|Schedule marketing appointments||Give an educational presentation in a one-on-one situation|
1,2Items must comply with CMS’ nominal gifts ordinances.
NEW for 2020: According to the changes set forth by CMS in the 2020 MCMG memo, we believe that agents may now conduct a sales event or marketing appointment immediately after an educational event, even in the same location if they’d like. We also interpret this to mean that agents can collect SOAs and take applications after an educational event has concluded.
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