In its 2024 final rule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services enacted tighter requirements on how health insurance agents can use the Medicare name and other branding in marketing activities. For some agents, that means you’ll have to re-think some of your tried and true marketing strategies. Here are some problems you might now face – and some suggestions for getting around them.
My business cards call me a Medicare “expert,” “specialist” or other highly-qualified person
Yep. This is now outlawed. In CMS’s eyes, this could confuse the average beneficiary into thinking you have the official approval, endorsement, or authorization of Medicare. So, you’ll need to get crafty in how you present yourself. You could be a “specialist in senior benefits,” “an expert in senior health plans,” or the trusty “licensed insurance professional.” You just can’t call yourself a Medicare expert – no matter how true it is.
I use the Medicare card, or logos/imagery from Medicare, CMS, or HHS in my advertisements or brochures
This is also a no-go. To avoid confusing beneficiaries, CMS is also cracking down on logos or imagery inspired by the CMS, Medicare, or, HHS logos. While we haven’t seen those pop up too often with our partner agents, we have seen some real or approximated Medicare cards thrown around out there. That’s prohibited by the new rules.
So, instead of framing yourself in the iconic red, white, and blue card, you might place your headshot and logo more prominently in an ad. Or, you might talk more about the value you provide to your clients and community. Since you’re striking language with the word “Medicare” in it anyway, you can position yourself in a variety of new ways.
I use Medicare in my business name, email address, or other common documentation
CMS expressly addresses this use of the Medicare name in its final rule – and not in a favorable light. If you’re in this situation, you’ll need to consider a name change.
Consulting with a legal expert is a necessity here, but you may need to apply for a “DBA” or a “doing business as” with state and/or local government. You’ll also need to figure out whether a website for your intended new name is available – you don’t want to sabotage your business with a confusing web presence. And then, of course, you’ll need marketing collateral – business cards, flyers, giveaways, etc. – to represent your new brand.
So what’s next?
These are three of the most common ways we’ve seen Medicare imagery used that might now run afoul of regulations. You’ll want to carefully consider each of your marketing pieces to make sure you remain compliant. And, if you’ve got any questions, you can always reach out to your account management team at firstname.lastname@example.org.