Prep for the 2019 Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines

I am shocked the 2019 Medicare Marketing Guidelines (MMG) did not come out last Friday since that is when I started vacation. But no… a week later, we are still waiting, and now the wait really starts to impact the development of our marketing strategies and tactics.

In reviewing the April 12, 2018, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) memo asking for request for input on the 2019 Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines, our Marketing team at GHG got together to think about what we would do right now not knowing what the changes are and not being 100% sure if these changes are going into effect. Here are a few suggestions to get your marketing team ready for what we are expecting:

#1 Disclaimers: There is a good chance many of the current disclaimers will be modified and/or deleted. This should not stop you from developing creative materials, although you should have some alternative copy ready to be utilized if the majority of disclaimers go away. Some ideas to consider:

  • Laundry list of most important benefits
  • Additional “call to action” copy to get prospects to either call you or go to your website
  • Copy that clearly states your differential in the market – and it doesn’t matter if this is a repeat of copy. Repeating the most important points you want a prospect to remember is an important strategy!

#2 Font Size: If CMS no longer mandates that all marketing materials have at least a Times New Roman 12-point font type, it will be much easier for the Marketing teams to fit in additional copy points. You may want to develop materials in 11-point and 12-point font to see what extra space you may gain. You may be able to utilize some of the ideas above to help increase marketing points, especially on postcards. Although remember – those whose eyes are over age 65 are not able to read very small type, and if you reverse out the type, it may become illegible, so we would not recommend anything smaller than 11 point font.

#3 Referrals: If CMS allows you to announce that you can offer a gift for a referral and you can request email addresses when asking for referrals in addition to the mailing address – start planning for a mailing now! What free gift could you provide for a referral? Think about allowing members to send referrals to the plan by email, phone, as well as mail so you can utilize these leads quickly for the Annual Election Period (AEP).

#4 Business Reply Cards (BRCs): BRCs that do not mention plan-specific benefits do not need to be submitted into the Health Plan Management System (HPMS). Make sure now that your BRCs do not mention benefits. This is an easy fix—make it now.

#5 Provider Communications: CMS is expected to clarify it is not a violation of CMS marketing requirements if contracted providers notify their patients that the contract status between the provider and the plan/Part D sponsor is changing. We have seen many plans this year developing benefits and products with their providers. Utilizing providers to communicate this relationship during AEP is important. You don’t have to wait for the guidelines to be released on this one – it is already allowed!

 

 

Resources:

Benefits are Submitted. What’s Top of Mind for 2019 Marketing and Sales? Learn more

Whether you need help establishing an effective member experience or member communication strategy, cataloging and evaluating existing member communications, or identifying opportunities to streamline and strengthen your member engagement tactics or interventions, we can help. Read more here

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Diane Hollie
Diane Hollie

Diane Hollie is Associate Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Strategy at Gorman Health Group (GHG). In this role, she provides strategic consulting services to ensure organizations maximize their sales distribution and marketing mix. Diane brings GHG clients more than 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and product development for Government programs. Her strong marketing, sales and compliance background has extended to providing compliance guidance for marketing, sales and customer service communications.

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