Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMG)Date: September 5, 2018Table of Contents10 – Introduction . 120 – Communications and Marketing Definitions . 220.1 – Factors for Activity and Material Determination . 220.2 – Activity and Material Designation . 330 – General Communication Requirements . 430.1 – Anti-Discrimination . 430.2 – Standardization of Plan Name Type . 430.3 – Non-English Speaking Population . 430.4 – Hours of Operation Requirements for Materials . 530.5 – Use of TTY Numbers . 530.6 – Electronic Communication Policy. 530.7 – Prohibited Terminology/Statements . 630.8 – Product Endorsements/Testimonials . 630.9 – Co-branding . 730.9.1 – Co-branding with Providers or Downstream Entities . 730.9.2 – Plan’s/Part D Sponsor’s Relationships with State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs(SPAP) . 740 – General Marketing Requirements . 840.1 – Plan Comparisons . 840.2 – Marketing Through Unsolicited Contacts . 840.3 – Marketing Through Telephonic Contact . 940.4 – Nominal Gifts . 1040.5 – Exclusion of Meals as a Nominal Gift . 1040.6 – Marketing Star Ratings. 1040.6.1 – Marketing Plans/Part D Sponsors with an Overall 5-Star Rating . 1140.6.2 – Low Performing Icon Plans/Part D Sponsors . 1140.7 – Prohibition of Open Enrollment Period Marketing . 1240.8 – Marketing of Rewards and Incentives Programs . 1250 – Outreach Activities. 13i

50.1 – Educational Events . 1350.2 – Marketing/Sales Events . 1350.3 – Personal/Individual Marketing Appointments . 1460 – Activities in a Healthcare Setting. 1460.1 – Provider-Initiated Activities . 1460.2 – Plan-Initiated Provider Activities in the Healthcare Setting . 1460.3 – Contracted Provider Oversight Responsibilities . 1560.4 – Plan/Part D Sponsor Activities in the Healthcare Setting . 1660.4.1 – Special Guidance for Institutional Special Needs Plans (I-SNPs) Serving Long- TermCare Facility Residents . 1660.5 – Provider Affiliation Announcements . 1770 – Websites and Social/Electronic Media . 1770.1 – Plan/Part D Sponsor Required Websites . 1770.1.1 – General Website Requirements . 1770.1.2 – Documents to be Posted on Website . 1870.1.3 – Required Content . 1970.2 – Searchable Formularies and Directories . 2070.3 – Social Media. 2070.4 – Mobile Applications . 2080 – Call Centers . 2180.1 – Customer Service Call Center Requirements and Standards . 2180.2 – Customer Service Call Center Hours of Operations . 2180.3 – Informational Scripts. 2280.4 – Telesales and Enrollment Scripts . 2280.5 – Pharmacy Technical Help Call Center Requirements and Standards . 2380.6 – Part D Sponsor Coverage Determinations and Appeals Call Center Requirements andStandards . 2380.7 – Activities That Do Not Require the Use of State-Licensed Marketing Representatives . 2490 – Tracking, Submission, and Review Process . 2490.1 – Material Identification. 2490.1.1 – Materials Subject to Submission . 2590.2 – Material Replacement . 2590.3 – Non-English Language and Alternate Format Materials . 2690.4 – Submission of Websites and Webpages for Review . 26ii

90.5 – Submission of Multi-Plan Materials . 2690.6 – Status of HPMS Material . 2890.7 – Resubmitting Previously Disapproved Pieces . 2990.8 – File & Use Process . 2990.9 – File & Use Retrospective Monitoring Reviews . 3090.10 – Standardized Model Materials . 3090.11 – Non-Standardized Model Materials . 3090.12 – Template Materials . 3090.13 – Static Templates . 3190.14 – Standard Templates . 31100 – Required Materials . 32100.1 – Mailings to Multiple Beneficiaries at One Household . 32100.2 – Electronic Delivery of Materials . 32100.2.1 - Notification of Availability of Electronic Materials . 32100.2.2 – Electronic Delivery of Required Materials. 33100.3 – Changes and Corrections to Existing Documents. 33100.4 – List of Required Materials . 34110 – Agent/Broker Activities, Oversight, and Compensation Requirements. 52110.1 – Agent Requirements . 52110.2 – Permitted Agent Activities . 52110.3 – Plan/Part D Sponsor Oversight . 53110.4 – Compensation Applicability and Definitions . 53110.5 – Plan/Part D Sponsor Compensation Reporting Requirements. 54110.6 – Compensation . 54110.6.1 – Initial Compensation . 54110.6.2 – Renewal Compensation . 54110.6.3 – Referral/Finder’s Fees . 54110.6.4 – Paying Compensation . 55110.6.5 – Paying Initial Compensation . 55110.6.6 – Paying Renewal Compensation . 55110.6.7 – Other Compensation Scenarios . 55110.7 – Compensation Recovery Requirements (Charge-backs) . 56110.7.1 – Rapid Disenrollment . 56iii

110.7.2 – Other Compensation Recovery . 57110.8 – Payments other than Compensation. 57120 – Use of Medicare Beneficiary Information Obtained from CMS . 57120.1 – Consent Requirements for Non-Health Related Mailings . 58Appendix 1 – Definitions . 59Appendix 2 – Disclaimers . 63Appendix 3 – Pre-Enrollment Checklist . 67Appendix 4 – External Links . 69Appendix 5 – Summary of Benefits Instructions . 71Appendix 6 - Employer/Union Group Health Plans . 74Appendix 7 – Use of Medicare Mark for Part D Sponsors . 76iv

10 – IntroductionThe Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMG) interpret and provideguidance on the marketing and communication rules for Medicare Advantage (MA-only, MAPD) plans (also referred to as “plans”), Medicare Prescription Drug plans (PDP) (also referred toas “Part D sponsors”), and except where otherwise specified, Section 1876 cost plans (alsoreferred to as “plans”) and employer/union-sponsored group MA or Part D plans. These plans aregoverned under Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 422, 423, and 417.These requirements also apply to Medicare-Medicaid Plans (MMPs), except as modified orclarified in state-specific marketing guidance for each state’s demonstration. Such state-specificguidance for MMPs is considered an addendum to the MCMG, and will be posted ionandResources.html.These requirements generally do not apply to Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly(PACE) organizations or section 1833 Health Care Pre-payment plans unless otherwise noted inthe MCMG.The term “marketing” is referenced at sections 1851(h) and 1860 D-4 of the Social Security Act(the Act). “Communications” and “marketing” covered by the MCMG are defined at 42 CFRsections 422.2260 and 423.2260.CompliancePlans/Part D sponsors are responsible for ensuring compliance with CMS’ currentcommunication and marketing regulations and guidance. This includes monitoring andoverseeing the activities of their subcontractors, downstream entities, and/or delegated entities. IfCMS finds that Plans/Part D sponsors have failed to comply with applicable rules and guidance,CMS may take compliance and/or enforcement actions, including, but not limited to, intermediatesanctions and/or civil money penalties.Note: Plans/Part D sponsors may impose additional restrictions on their subcontractors,downstream entities, and/or delegated entities, provided they do not conflict with therequirements outlined in the MCMG.The guidance set forth in this document is subject to change as policy, communicationstechnology, and industry marketing practices evolve. Any new rulemaking or interpretiveguidance (e.g., annual Call Letter guidance or Health Plan Management System (HPMS)memoranda) may supersede the guidance provided in this document.1

20 – Communications and Marketing Definitions42 CFR §§ 422.2260, 423.2260Communications means activities and use of materials to provide information to current andprospective enrollees. This means that all activities and materials aimed at prospective andcurrent enrollees, including their caregivers and other decision makers associated with aprospective or current enrollee, are “communications” within the scope of the regulations at 42CFR Parts 417, 422, and 423.Marketing is a subset of communications and includes activities and use of materials by thePlan/Part D sponsor with the intent to draw a beneficiary's attention to a plan or plans and toinfluence a beneficiary's decision-making process when selecting a plan for enrollment ordeciding to stay enrolled in a plan (that is, retention-based marketing).Additionally, marketing contains information about the plan’s benefit structure, cost sharing,measuring, or ranking standards.However, CMS excludes materials that might meet the definition of marketing based on content,but do not meet the intent requirements of marketing. Additionally, CMS excludes certainrequired materials (as outlined under section 100), and reserves the ability to exclude additionalmaterials based on their use or purpose.The MCMG discusses requirements applicable to all communication activities and materials, aswell as additional requirements only applicable to marketing activities and materials. Allmarketing, unless otherwise noted, must adhere to the communication requirements.20.1 – Factors for Activity and Material Determination42 CFR §§ 422.2260, 422.2262, 422.2268, 423.2260, 423.2262, 423.2268As outlined above, communication activities and materials are distinguished from marketingactivities and materials based on both intent and content.Intent – the purpose of marketing activities and materials is to draw a prospective or currentenrollee’s attention to a plan or group of plans to influence a beneficiary’s decision whenselecting and enrolling in a plan or deciding to stay in a plan (retention-based marketing).Content – based on the exclusions in the definition of marketing and marketing materials and thetype of information that would be intended to draw attention to a plan or influence a beneficiary’senrollment decision, marketing activities and materials include: Information about benefits or benefit structure; Information about premiums and cost sharing; Comparisons to other Plan(s)/Part D sponsor(s); Rankings or measurements in reference to other Plan(s)/Part D sponsor(s); or Information about Star Ratings.To identify marketing activities and materials, CMS will evaluate both the intent and content ofthe activities and materials to determine if the definition of marketing is met.2

Examples:1. A flyer reads “Swell Health is now offering Medicare Advantage coverage in NowhereCounty. Call us at 1-800-SWELL-ME for more information.”Marketing or Communication? Communication. While the intent is to draw abeneficiary’s attention to Swell Health, the information provided does not containany marketing content.2. A billboard reads “Swell Health Offers 0 Premium Plans in Nowhere County” Marketingor Communication? Marketing. The advertisement includes both the intent to drawthe viewer’s attention to the plan and has content that mentions zero-dollarpremiums being available.3. A letter is sent to enrollees to remind them to get their flu shot. The body of the lettersays, “Swell Health enrollees can get their flu shot for 0 copay at a networkpharmacy ”Marketing or Communication? Communication. While the letter mentions costsharing, the intent is not to steer the reader into making a plan selection or to staywith the plan, but rather to encourage existing enrollees to get a flu shot. The lettercontains factual information about coverage and was provided only to currentenrollees.20.2 – Activity and Material Designation42 CFR §§ 422.2260, 423.2260CMS designates as communication or marketing all required materials in Section 100 of thisdocument. Plans/Part D sponsors will need to review regulations at 42 CFR §§ 422.2260 and423.2260 and these guidelines to determine if a plan-created material (i.e., something not listed asa required material in Section 100) is considered a communication or marketing material. Thedifference between communication and marketing activities and materials is based on the intentand content of what is being conveyed. Plans/Part D sponsors are also encouraged to consult withtheir Regional Office Account Manager or Marketing Reviewer should they have any marketingor communication questions.Materials are static in nature, whereas activities are more dynamic. Interactions with a beneficiarycould begin as a communication activity but become a marketing activity. In cases where acommunication activity has the potential to become a marketing activity, the Plan/Part D sponsoror its downstream entities must adhere to all marketing requirements to ensure full compliance.For example, an enrollee calls the Plan’s/Part D sponsor’s customer service number for questionsrelated to coverage under the plan in which in the beneficiary is currently enrolled; during thecall, the enrollee asks about other health plan options, moving the call from communications tomarketing.3

30 – General Communication RequirementsThe following guidance applies to all communications (including marketing). Items distributed bythe Plan/Part D sponsor and/or its first tier, downstream, and related entities must meet therequirements in this section.30.1 – Anti-Discrimination42 CFR §§ 422.110, 422.2268(a)(12), 423.2268(a)(12), and 45 CFR Part 92Plans/Part D sponsors may not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion,gender, sex, age, mental or physical disability, health status, receipt of health care, claimsexperience, medical history, genetic information, evidence of insurability, or geographic location.Plans/Part D sponsors may not target potential enrollees from higher income areas, state or implythat plans are only available to seniors rather than to all Medicare beneficiaries, or state or implythat plans are only available to Medicaid beneficiaries unless the plan is a Dual Eligible SpecialNeeds Plan (D-SNP) or MMP. Only Special Needs Plans (SNPs) and MMPs may limitenrollments to individuals meeting eligibility requirements based on health and/or other status;such limitations must be consistent with the scope of their Medicare Advantage, MedicareImprovement for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) or three-way contracts with CMS.Plans/Part D sponsors must comply with their obligations under other federal anti-discriminationrules and requirements. This guidance focuses only on the anti-discrimination requirements in 42C.F.R. Parts 422 and 423; Plans/Part D sponsors must be aware of and comply with their otherobligations under federal law that are not addressed here.30.2 – Standardization of Plan Name TypeSections 1851(h)(6) and 1860D-4(l)(3) of the Social Security Act; 42 CFR §§ 422.2268(a)(6),423.2268(a)(6)Plans/Part D sponsors must include the plan type in each plan’s name using standard terminology.This must be placed at the end of each plan name. For instance, an HMO plan named “GoldenMedicare Plan” would appear as follows: “Golden Medicare Plan (HMO).” Plans/Part D sponsorscontaining the plan type at the end of the plan name (e.g., Gold Plan Private Fee-For-Service) arenot required to repeat the plan type at the end of the plan name. Plans/Part D sponsors mustinclude the plan type on all communication or marketing materials when the plan name ismentioned.Plans/Part D sponsors must include the plan type on the front page or at the beginning of thecommunication or marketing document. The plan type is not required throughout the document.30.3 – Non-English Speaking Population42 CFR §§ 422.111(h)(1), 422.112(a)(8), 423.128(d)(1)(iii), 422.2268(a)(7), 423.2268(a)(7)Plan/Part D sponsor call centers receive calls from current and prospective enrollees. Call centersmust have interpreter services available to answer questions from non-English speaking or limitedEnglish proficient (LEP) beneficiaries. This requirement is applicable regardless of the percentageof non-English speaking or LEP beneficiaries in a plan benefit package (PBP) service area.4

CMS has designated materials in section 100 that the agency considers vital and thus Plans/Part Dsponsors must make available in any language that is the primary language of at least five (5)percent of a Plan’s/Part D sponsor’s PBP service area.Note: The enrollee identification (ID) card is excluded from this requirement.30.4 – Hours of Operation Requirements for Materials42 CFR §§ 422.111(h), 422.2262(c), 423.128(d), 423.2262(c)Plan’s/Part D sponsor’s hours and days of operation must be included when a customer servicenumber is provided on all marketing and communications materials in order to ensure that noticeof the customer service contact information is adequate and not confusing or misleading. Thisdoes not apply to enrollee ID cards and the standardized Star Ratings document. In addition,Plans/Part D sponsors must list the hours and days of operation for 1-800-MEDICARE on everymaterial where 1-800-MEDICARE or Medicare TTY appears (i.e., 24 hours a day/7 days aweek).Note: CMS requires Plans/Part D sponsors to list the hours and days of operation only oncein conjunction with the customer service number and 1-800-MEDICARE listings.30.5 – Use of TTY NumbersSection 504 of the Rehabilitation ActA toll-free TTY number must appear in conjunction with the customer service number in thesame font size as the other phone numbers, except as outlined below. Plans/Part D sponsors mayuse their own TTY number, 711 for Telecommunications Relay Service, or state relay services, aslong as the number is accessible from TTY equipment.Exceptions: Outdoor advertising (ODA) or banner/banner-like ads Radio advertisements and radio sponsorships (e.g., sponsoring an hour of public radio) In television ads, the TTY number may be a different font size/style than other phonenumbers to limit possible confusion30.6 – Electronic Communication Policy42 CFR §§ 422.2268(b), 423.2268(b)A Plan/Part D sponsor may initiate contact via email to prospective enrollees and to retainenrollment for current enrollees. Plans/Part D sponsors must include an opt-out process on eachcommunication to elect to no longer receive emails.Note: Text messaging and other forms of electronic direct messaging (e.g., social mediaplatforms) would fall under unsolicited contact and is not permitted.5

30.7 – Prohibited Terminology/Statements42 CFR §§ 422.2264, 423.2264, 422.2268(a)(2), 423.2268(a)(2)Plans/Sponsors are prohibited from distributing communications that are materially inaccurate,misleading, or otherwise make misrepresentations or could confuse beneficiaries.Plans/Part D sponsors may not: Claim that they are recommended or endorsed by CMS, Medicare, or the Department ofHealth & Human Services (DHHS); Use unsubstantiated absolute or qualified superlatives or pejoratives;Note: Unsubstantiated absolute and/or qualified superlatives may be used inlogos/taglines. Market that they will not disenroll individuals due to failure to pay premiums; or, Use the term “free” to describe a zero-dollar premium, reduction in premiums (includingPart B buy-down), reduction in deductibles or cost sharing, low-income subsidy (LIS),cost sharing for individuals with dual eligibility.Note: Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans may not imply that the plan operates as asupplement to Medicare.MA plans that are not D-SNPs may not: Imply that their plan is designed for dual eligible individuals; Claim that they have a relationship with the state Medicaid agency, unless the MA plan(or its parent organization) has contracted with the state to coordinate Medicaid services,and the contract is specific to that MA plan (not for a separate D-SNP or MMP); or Target their marketing efforts exclusively to dual eligible individuals.Plans/Part D sponsors may: State that the Plan/Part D sponsor is approved to participate in Medicare programs and/oris contracted to administer Medicare benefits; Use the term “Medicare-approved” to describe their benefits and/or services within theirmarketing materials; and, Use the term “free” in conjunction with mandatory, supplemental, and preventive benefitsprovided at a zero-dollar cost sharing for all enrollees.30.8 – Product Endorsements/Testimonials42 CFR §§ 422.2264, 423.2264, 422.2268, 423.2268Product endorsements and testimonials must adhere to the following requirements: The speaker must identify the Plan’s/Part D sponsor’s product or company by name; Medicare beneficiaries endorsing or promoting a Plan/Part D sponsor must be enrolled inthe Plan/Part D sponsor at the time the endorsement or testimonial was created; If an individual is paid or has been paid to endorse or promote the plan or product, theadvertisement must clearly state this (e.g., “paid endorsement”); If an individual, such as an actor, is paid to portray a real or fictitious situation, theadvertisement must clearly state it is a “Paid Actor Portrayal”, and,6

The Plan/Part D sponsor must be able to substantiate any claims made in theendorsement/testimonial.Note: Reuse of individual users’ content or comment from social media sites (e.g.,Facebook, Twitter) that promotes a Plan’s/Part D sponsor’s product is considered a productendorsement/testimonial and must adhere to the guidance in this section.30.9 – Co-branding42 CFR §§ 422.2262, 422.2264, 422.2268, 423.2262, 423.2264, 423.2268Plans/Part D sponsors must enter in HPMS any co-branding relationships, including any changesin or newly formed co-branding relationships, prior to marketing them. CMS does not review orapprove such relationships but needs the information to review associated marketing materials

Sep 05, 2018 · 2 20 – Communications and Marketing Definitions 42 CFR §§ 422.2260, 423.2260 Communications means activities and use of materials to provide information to current and prospective enrollees. This means t