Benefits were submitted on June 5, 2017. Too many times we see health plans wait until the last minute to complete important information. This tends to lead to incorrect mailings and advertising getting into the marketplace with costly errata mailings occurring. Gorman Health Group recommends you start with a strong work plan in place to get the following documents completed, starting now:
Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC) and Explanation of Coverage (EOC). The 2018 model materials have been released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The ANOCs and EOCs are typically the most difficult documents to develop, get reviewed, and have printed. It is best to develop these documents now since they must be mailed by September 30, 2017. Also, make sure you have a reputable printer who understands these documents and the importance of meeting CMS deadlines.
Summary of Benefits (SBs). As stated during the CMS Spring Conference, CMS will no longer be issuing annual memos for the SB; instead, changes will be listed each year in the Medicare Marketing Guidelines (MMG). Although the 2018 MMG have not yet been released, CMS did highlight the following changes for 2018:
- No more hard copy changes.
- Outpatient hospital coverage will be listed right after inpatient hospital coverage.
- The extra premium for optional supplemental benefits can be included in the SB.
- The document must be labeled “Summary of Benefits,” and the plan year should be visible on the cover.
- If a benefit is not covered, such as transportation, you still need to list the benefit and state “Not covered.”
- Plans can add other benefits not listed by CMS to the SB and should label the section “Additional Benefits.”
It is important to start development of the SB early since it is typically inserted into sales kits/packages and needs to be in the hands of your sales representatives no later than October 1. Printing, fulfillment, and shipping of the SB is a timely and costly endeavor.
Sales Kits/Packages. In addition to the SB, you should begin working on the following materials:
- Enrollment Form. If you are still working with enrollment forms, start now. Although the Medicare Managed Care Manual Chapter 2, Medicare Advantage Enrollment and Disenrollment, guidance is not usually updated until August, it is important to have this document submitted and ready to go if you have to make changes if it is non-model, especially since this is part of the sales kit/packages.
- Benefit Highlights Sheet. Although CMS states they will continue to allow benefit highlights to be developed, they prefer the prospect reads the SB instead. GHG understands that benefit highlights sheets are a great resource for sales staff, as well as for prospective enrollees who wish to quickly view key benefits most important to them.
Sales Presentations. If you develop sales presentations for your sales team, start working on them now. The last thing you need is to have your sales force sitting with a prospect and not have the approved resources.
Annual Election Period (AEP) Mailing #1. There is nothing worse than the phones not ringing, idle sales reps, and websites with no traffic. We have seen this firsthand, and it is not pretty. Get your mailings started! Even though you may think it’s too early, it isn’t. There are so many interruptions during the summer months with employee vacations, release of the MMG, and review periods, it’s best to start as soon as possible.
One last important NOTE: As you know, filed benefits are not final until they have been “blessed” by CMS. Every year, we hear complaints about how benefit changes are communicated – or not communicated. Please make sure you have a communication strategy in place to update all departments’ if/when benefits change. This process – when done correctly – saves money, time, and embarrassing communications with CMS!
Our team of experts can develop or review your sales collateral and creative by product type to help ensure your high-impact messaging is both targeted and compliant. Contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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