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CMS Issues Draft Part D Plan Marketing Guidelines


By Lisa Joldersma

CMS has released draft marketing guidelines for 2006 Medicare Part D plans. Under the draft guidelines issued May 9, 2005, Part D plan sponsors may not release any marketing materials for 2006 product offerings until October 1, 2005. Sponsors also must have contracted with CMS and be capable of enrollment and operation prior to distributing marketing materials.

The CMS definition of marketing materials is quite broad, and includes any informational materials that:

  • Promote a Part D plan
  • Provide enrollment information for a Part D plan
  • Explain the benefits of enrollment in a Part D plan
  • Describe the rules that apply to enrollees in a Part D plan
  • Explain how Medicare services are covered under a Part D plan
  • Communicate various membership operational policies, rules, and procedures.

While “general health education materials” do not fall under these CMS guidelines, if such materials are used in any way to promote the organization or explain benefits then they are considered marketing materials” subject to the CMS review and approval procedures. CMS considers print, radio, television and internet content to all be within its review authority.

The CMS draft proposes specific requirements for Part D plan member identification cards, including graphics, fonts, layout, and product name. Health plans currently subject to association or other corporate policies in these areas are advised to examine the CMS guidelines carefully for conflicting requirements. Any irresolvable conflicts should be brought to CMS's attention immediately to avoid costly changes or delay of marketing activities.

CMS also has released separate guidance regarding Medicare Advantage marketing activities. Further clarification is anticipated on appropriate coordination of the Part D and Medicare Advantage marketing guidelines.

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