Want to host a Medicare educational event or a Medicare sales event? It’s important to know that there are certain things you can and cannot say during these events!
Just like how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have some strict rules on what you can and cannot say during Medicare sales appointments, they also have strict rules on what you can say at Medicare educational and sales events. You can find these rules in the Medicare Advantage & Part D Communication Requirements, but to help make understanding these rules easier, we’re going over the major language restrictions below!
Note: Please keep in mind that, in addition to the phrases listed below, while you’re hosting Medicare educational and sales events, you also cannot say the things we covered in our “What Agents Can’t Say During Medicare Sales Appointments” post. While we think that we provide a pretty good summary of what you can’t say during these events below, this post is not all-encompassing. For all rules on what you can and cannot say during Medicare educational and sales events, please read the full Medicare Advantage & Part D Communication Requirements from CMS.
During Educational Events on Medicare Choices
Here are some examples of phrases that you can’t say throughout educational events…
“You can sign in on the sheet of paper up front.”
There shouldn’t be a sign-in paper up front at this type of event. You cannot display a sign-in sheet or collect contact info from attendees at educational events.
“Here’s a paper with the premiums and copays of these plans.”
Educational events are to be strictly educational. During them, you can’t lead or attempt to lead attendees toward a specific plan or set of plans. You can’t hand out anything that lists premiums or copays at these events. You can’t hand out any carrier-specific plan or benefits info or distribute marketing plan materials.
“How about we schedule an appointment?”
You can’t schedule appointments during educational events. You can offer business cards or provide generic reply cards for the attendees to initiate contact.
“Can you fill out this Scope of Appointment?”
You are prohibited from distributing and collecting Scopes of Appointment at educational events.
“Who wants an application?”
It’s also prohibited for you to hand out other Medicare marketing materials and applications at educational events.
“I hope you can make it to my sales presentation immediately following this event!”
You are not allowed to hold a sales event within 12 hours of an educational event in the same building or any adjacent buildings.
During Sales Events for Medicare Plans
Here are some examples of phrases you can’t say throughout sales events…
“This event is strictly educational.”
If you haven’t registered and marketed the event as educational, it’s not an educational event. You shouldn’t attempt to mislead attendees, or prospective attendees, into thinking otherwise.
“Everyone must sign in on the sheet of paper up front.”
Unlike with educational events, you can have a sign-in sheet available for attendees to fill out at sales events; however, you cannot require attendees to sign in. Filling out the sheet must be optional.
“Meals and drinks are on me, tonight!”
You cannot offer or subsidize meals, or a combination of foods and beverages that could constitute a meal, at sales events.
“Let’s assess your health at the table up front.”
Health screenings or assessments could be used for “cherry picking,” and so they are also prohibited by CMS at sales events.
“Now I want to tell you about a great life insurance policy.”
You cannot discuss or cross-sell non-health related products at Medicare sales events.
“This plan is the best!”
Avoid using absolute or qualified superlatives when describing plans unless you can back up your statements with factual data.
“I need you to fill out one of these Scope of Appointment forms.”
Be careful. You can distribute and collect Scopes of Appointment at sales events, but you cannot require attendees to do so, whether you’re hosting an event or otherwise. They must decide themselves if they want to complete the form. Make sure you follow all necessary rules around collecting Scopes, including filling them out 48 hours prior to any appointment.
“You must fill out one of these enrollment forms.”
You also can’t require attendees to fill out an enrollment form at any time during these events or in general. The decision to enroll in a plan must be made by the attendee alone. Your role is to help guide them, not coerce them.
During Both Types of Events
Finally, here is an example of a phrase you can’t say throughout both educational and sales events…
“I’ll give whoever knows the answer to this question a $25 gift card.”
While it’s true that money talks, and many people like the chance to win a gift card, these types of offers don’t help people make the best decisions for their Medicare coverage. CMS’ rules dictate that you cannot give away cash or other monetary rebates at educational or sales events.
Important Note About Virtual Events
Now that CMS considers all insurance agents to be Third-Party Marketing Organizations (TPMOs), you must adhere to new rules for virtual educational and sales events.
If your Medicare event is taking place via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or another online video chat platform, make sure you record that meeting and state one of the following TPMO disclaimers.
If marketing fewer than all plans within a service area, use:
“We do not offer every plan available in your area. Currently we represent [insert number of organizations] organizations which offer [insert number of plans] products in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov, 1-800-MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to get information on all of your options.”
If marketing all plans within a service area, use:
“Currently we represent [insert number of organizations] organizations which offer [insert number of plans] products in your area. You can always contact Medicare.gov, 1-800-MEDICARE, or your local State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) for help with plan choices.”
We realize this is something you should say in an article about what you should not say, but if you do not state this disclaimer, there could be serious consequences! Our goal is to help you stay compliant.
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Some of these examples may have seemed silly, and like phrases you would never say, and if so, we’re glad! It means you have a good understanding of what’s appropriate to say during educational and sales events on Medicare. If not, don’t sweat it — that is why the guidelines have been established.
We hope this article helps you to not only understand the rules associated with these events, but also gives you the confidence to host them. Both educational and sales events can play a huge role in your Medicare sales strategies. Just remember these rules, and the other ones in the MA & Part D Communication Requirements regarding these events, and you’ll be set for success.
For more info on the other rules you must follow when hosting these types of events, check out our Rules for Hosting a Compliant Medicare Educational Event and Rules for Hosting a Compliant Medicare Sales Event posts, as well as the latest MA & Part D Communication Requirements.