CMS released a memo last week regarding the marketing practices of TPMOs (Third Party Marketing Organizations - which includes independent insurance agents.) during the Annual Enrollment Period. They are quite concerned because they have reviewed thousands of complaints and numerous recorded phone calls and have identified issues with regard to the information that is being provided to consumers.
CMS has been conducting a "Secret Shopping" program by calling numbers associated with Medicare Advantage and PDP marketing efforts (tv and newspaper ads, internet searches and mailers) and these secret shoppers have been receiving inaccurate or misleading information regarding plans they inquired about. Additionally, some TPMOs are not complying with the new regulations put into place, and some are even pressuring consumers into purchasing plans that may not be the best fit for them or have been misrepresented.
CMS is closely monitoring all activities during the open enrollment period, and will take compliance action for activities and materials that do not meet their requirements.
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CMS recommends that TPMOs immediately implement the following:
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.