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Medicare Marketing Guidelines

Navigate the requirements, prohibitions, and penalties to ensure compliant marketing practices with Medicare beneficiaries with our Medicare Marketing Guidelines.

By on Jun 16, 2024.

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Medicare Marketing Guidelines

What are Medicare Marketing Guidelines?

Transparent and honest marketing materials enable beneficiaries to make informed decisions about their healthcare and coverage options. The Medicare Marketing Guidelines (MMG) are a comprehensive set of regulations established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). These guidelines dictate how Medicare Advantage (MA), Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDP), and other Medicare plans can market their offerings to beneficiaries, ensuring adherence to legal provisions outlined in the Social Security Act and relevant sections of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Primarily, the MMG aims to safeguard Medicare beneficiaries against deceptive or misleading information or overly aggressive marketing tactics that may result in enrollment in unsuitable plans. It covers a broad spectrum of marketing practices and materials, encompassing various mediums such as general advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, online platforms, and agent/broker activities.

The MMG includes stipulations concerning the content, form, format, timing, required disclaimers of marketing materials, and the procedures for CMS submission and approval. These guidelines undergo annual updates, and compliance is monitored through audits, covert assessments, and complaint tracking.

Who should know the Medicare Marketing Guidelines?

The MMG governs marketing activities for Medicare plans and applies to plan sponsors, third-party marketing organizations (TPMOs), and downstream entities. Compliance ensures beneficiaries receive accurate information for informed decisions. Violations incur penalties, emphasizing the need for robust compliance measures. Adhering to MMG is crucial for all involved in Medicare and its marketing efforts.

Why do the guidelines exist?

The MMG is designed to safeguard beneficiaries and promote fairness in the Medicare plan marketplace. Key objectives include shielding Medicare beneficiaries from deceptive marketing tactics, such as:

  • Providing misleading or false information to sway beneficiaries towards a specific plan.
  • Engaging in unsolicited door-to-door marketing or approaching beneficiaries in public areas like parking lots.
  • Offering cash incentives or free meals to encourage enrollment.
  • Making unsubstantiated claims about a plan being "the best."

Medicare Marketing Guidelines

The MMG, established by the CMS, regulates the marketing practices of insurers of MA, PDP, and other Medicare plans. It shields beneficiaries from misleading, confusing, or aggressive marketing tactics.


The MMG imposes several requirements on service plan marketing activities:

  • Mandating that marketing materials incorporate necessary disclaimers and disclosures, providing consumers with plan details and avenues for additional information.
  • Requiring plans to submit marketing content to CMS for review before use, ensuring accuracy and compliance with guidelines.
  • Directing TPMOs to record all marketing calls and report any agent disciplinary actions to plan monthly, which are then reported to CMS.
  • Ensuring marketing materials are accessible by providing alternate formats upon request and complying with language access requirements.


The MMG also prohibits various deceptive or high-pressure marketing tactics, such as:

  • Using discriminatory or misleading marketing strategies, including inaccurate information, exaggerated statements, or scare tactics.
  • Conducting unsolicited door-to-door marketing or approaching beneficiaries in public areas, including healthcare settings.
  • Offering meals or cash gifts at marketing events, though nominal gifts under $15 are permitted.
  • Making unsubstantiated claims of superiority, requiring factual data to support such assertions.
  • Marketing non-health products during Medicare sales presentations, maintaining separation between Medicare plan marketing and other products.

Penalties for not complying with marketing guidelines

The penalties aim to protect Medicare beneficiaries and deter plans from using misleading or high-pressure sales tactics prohibited by the MMG. Compliance with marketing rules is essential for plans to avoid costly fines, loss of contracts, and legal trouble.

Penalties for not complying with marketing guidelines include:

  • Financial penalties, such as civil money penalties (CMPs) for each violation and fines of up to $51,744 per violation under the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
  • Sanctions, including intermediate sanctions from CMS and termination of contracts with CMS, potentially leading to exclusion from participating in Medicare programs.
  • Legal action, which may involve government or member lawsuits for deceptive marketing practices.

These penalties are implemented to safeguard Medicare beneficiaries and discourage the use of misleading or high-pressure sales tactics prohibited by the MMG. Compliance with marketing rules is crucial for plans to avoid costly fines, contract losses, and legal repercussions.

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Commonly asked questions

What role do Third-Party Marketing Organizations (TPMOs) play in Medicare plan marketing?

TPMOs are entities like agencies, agents, and brokers that contract with Medicare plans to sell their products. TPMOs must follow the MMG, which requires them to record all sales calls, use CMS-approved materials and ads, report agent disciplinary actions to plans, and obtain consent to call leads.

How do the MMG rules differ for educational events vs. marketing events?

The MMG distinguishes between educational events, where plans provide objective information on Medicare/health care benefits without promoting a specific plan, and marketing/sales events that steer beneficiaries to a particular plan. Marketing events have more restrictions - plans can't offer meals or conduct health screenings. Educational events must be advertised as such and not include enrollment forms.

What are the consequences of violating the Medicare Marketing Guidelines?

Plans, providers, and agents that violate the MMG can face serious penalties from CMS, including civil money penalties, intermediate sanctions, termination of contracts, exclusion from Medicare programs, and legal action for deceptive practices. Under the Telemarketing Sales Rule, fines can reach $51,744 per violation.

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