Make sure your social media outreach complies with Medicare’s Marketing Guidelines

September 10, 2015 | by Justin Bever

[small revisions done on the original article]

Since I last wrote about making sure your custom Medicare marketing website is compliant, CMS and individual carriers have drastically increased their oversight for agents’ websites and use of social media. Many carriers now require agents to submit all of their website content for approval and ask questions about how we as agents are using social media to communicate with our clients.

CMS launched an official Facebook page for Medicare recently, which might be what spurred several carriers to send mandatory surveys to agents (You can view it by clicking here). Agents are required to complete these surveys, which go over what kind of communications we use to generate new business, if at all. They cover use of social media as well as online Lead generation services.

This scope of the Medicare Marketing Guidelines extends to all electronic communications, including websites, email and social media. As agents we need to be diligent about how we use social media and other online media to generate new opportunities. After all, we always need to be in compliance with the Medicare Marketing Guidelines if we want to continue selling.

Here are three easy tips to follow for using social media compliantly.

Do not engage in unsolicited contact. The Medicare Marketing Guidelines prevent agents from making unsolicited contact to a Medicare beneficiary for the purposes of enrolling them into a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan. This extends to social media and should be considered prior to reaching out to beneficiaries on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other social media website. Unless you were contacted first, do not send private messages or leave comments for beneficiaries advertising your service — CMS can consider these actions to be unsolicited contact. Don’t let a Facebook private message be your downfall!

Don’t make false statements or claims. While this tip seems pretty common sense, social media is often full of exaggeration and partisan information. Your opinions are important, but remember as a senior insurance advisor, anything you post could be reviewed by CMS for compliance if it ultimately led you to a sale.

Make sure your profiles are set to private. Social media is the ultimate public forum. Agents may sometimes get requests from beneficiaries through a public forum like Twitter or a from Facebook comment asking for help. Always direct beneficiaries to a private form of communication prior to discussing their unique situation, even if they have already shared part of their story on the public page.

Here’s the reason why: As covered entities under HIPPA, agents are required to make every effort to protect a member or prospective member’s Personal or Protected Health Information.

While this is not an exhaustive list, these three rules can help you remain compliant when using social media or other digital media to communicate with your clients or prospects.

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