One of the major rules in the Medicare Marketing Guidelines that is no different this year than it has been for several years, is that plans for 2024 cannot be officially revealed or discussed by insurance carriers or agents/brokers prior to October 1 each year. The Annual Election Period begins on October 15th, and no application can be submitted before that date. The two week pre-marketing period, however, allows us to help you, the Medicare member, to prepare and consider information, and therefore assist you to plan for the year ahead.
Second, as started last year, we will once again be required to record all calls in which we discuss Medicare with you that result in the sale of a plan. We do not have to record, in any fashion, meetings that we conduct with you on a face-to-face basis. Even when we are required to make a recording, we do not record any part of the conversations that contains any elements of private financial information. This is critical since these records have to be retained for a period of 10 years.
And speaking of 10 years, you are all familiar, at least those of you who have purchased a Medicare plan, with the Scope of Appointment. This is a form required by CMS to record the limits of the conversation we have together with respect to the areas of medical coverage you have agreed to discuss. This approval starts with you, and the SoA records your preferences, either physically or electronically. These records also have to be retained for 10 years.
When SoAs were introduced several years ago, the rule was that they had to collected no less than 48 hours prior to the sales conversation — a so-called cooling off period. A couple of years ago, the requirement was reduced to 24 hours or prior to the sales contact. Now, CMS has boosted the requirement back up to 48 hours — no one seems to know exactly why they felt this was necessary. However, for inbound calls to an agent/broker, the SoA can be collected at the time of the call and prior to start of the sales conversation.
Last year, CMS required brokers to publish a disclaimer statement — you may have seen it on every email that I sent out since late 2022. This disclaimer also had to appear on a broker’s website in an appropriate location. For 2024, CMS has expanded the requirement, to include the number of carriers and plans (specifically Medicare Advantage plans) that we represent in any particular market. Now that may seem an easy enough task, but determining the number of plans everyone has is rather difficult. SO, in case you see this statement on any one’s material, you know what it is all about. At any rate, here is the disclosure I have crafted for use starting October 1, for 2024::::
Included in the following statement is a disclaimer required by CMS of the federal government.
We may not offer all Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plans available in your area, but in some geographic areas we do offer all plans. We can and will in all cases show you every plan available in your area.
For 2024, we have completed the annual national Medicare certification, as well as certifications required by every carrier with which we are contracted. Currently in this area we offer all Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans marketed by all 14 carriers who have been approved by CMS.
You can reference all the plans approved by Medicare online at Medicare.gov or call 800.MEDICARE, or contact the local State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) office.
Lastly, for today, since I know by now that your eyes have probably begun to water, let me briefly address three types of “presentations” that you may come across in your examination of Medicare coverages this time of year. The first is a “marketing” (sales) presentation. CMS considers any meeting in which the conversation is directed toward or steered toward a particular product, to be a marketing presentation. This includes a one-on-one meeting. The second type is “educational” where no particular plan is discussed, but only the general Medicare environment. The third is an “informal” event, which is entirely driven by happenstance — such as a kiosk that you happen by in a mall. There are many restrictions and rules for each of these, but beware of any that offer you anything of value to attend beyond items of menial expense.
R Allan Jensen