What do most physicians and insurance agents have in common? At least two things:
- The desire to grow their business.
- The desire to retain the business they already have.
These common interests provide agents the opportunity to compliantly market within a healthcare setting while helping a physician retain and build a client base.
Given the importance of adhering to CMS guidelines whenever we market MAPD and PDP products, let’s first address this topic from a compliance standpoint. Below is a statement pulled directly from the 2013 Medicare Marketing Guidelines: Section 70.12 – Marketing in the Healthcare Setting:
“Providers are permitted to make available and/or distribute plan marketing materials as long as the provider and/or the facilities distributes or makes available plan sponsor marketing materials for all plans with which the provider participates. CMS does not expect providers to proactively contact all participating plans; rather, if a provider agrees to make available and/or distribute plan marketing materials they should do so knowing they must accept future requests from other plan sponsors with which they participate. Providers are also permitted to display posters or other materials in common areas such as the provider’s waiting room.”
As you can see, and as you should explain to the manager of the physician office you are addressing, displaying Medicare Advantage marketing materials in common areas of the office is fine, so long as the office agrees to market all accepted MA plans. It is not necessary for the office to reach out to the plan sponsor. They just need to be open to allowing the plan to supply marketing materials.
So how can this help you grow your business? Physicians have patients aging into Medicare all of the time, not to mention looking for new plans every Annual Enrollment Period. When these patients see marketing materials displayed in their physician’s office, they will know who to contact when the time arises.
How can this help the physician? When a physician’s patient ages into Medicare, there is no guarantee that patient will select a plan the physician accepts. If the physician is clear about the plans they do accept, there is much less risk of losing the patient’s business. Also, by opening up the visibility of the physician’s practice, the office will gain a knowledge source in you, the agent. While you are not allowed to recommend physicians, you can provide knowledge to a client about the physician’s practice.
So how do you get the office’s attention? Try introducing yourself to the office manager. Tell them you meet new prospective clients every week, and they often have questions about local physicians. Ask them if you could spend 10 or 15 minutes getting to know their practice so that you can properly inform your clients who may be looking for a new doctor. Showing interest in the workings of the office could lead to a discussion about having a marketing presence in their waiting room.