SOA
“I need you to sign this before we talk”….

If someone asks you to sign a document before they talk to you about a product, would you want to? My first reaction is to ask “Do you think I was born yesterday”.

That first reaction is understandable, because it doesn’t make sense to sign something before you hear about it. We are constantly told “DON’T SIGN ANYTHING UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S ABOUT”. Unfortunately that’s why the document in question has gotten agents a fair share of dial tones, door slams or at minimum a roll of the eyes.

Have you ever been asked to sign a Scope of Appointment? If yes, it’s likely because you were interested in hearing about a Medicare Advantage or a Prescription Drug Plan from a health agent.

 

So what is it?

Basically it’s a document that gives a sales agent PERMISSION to discuss with clients or prospective clients Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans. ¬†Oh and that’s assuming you initialed next to the plan types on the form! Yes you read correctly but go ahead read it again. Crazy right? At least that’s what most people think when I explain it to them.

So why would this document be required? It doesn’t make sense!

I agree but it was put in place by the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) years ago to “protect” seniors from unscrupulous sales agents. Yes in the early stages of Medicare Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage plans many agents were knocking on doors selling “FREE” plans to people they had no business enrolling or at least not without first explaining how they worked. It became a BIG problem, many Medicare beneficiaries were being taken advantage off.

Until recently this document had to be signed 48 hours in advance to a sales appointment. This wait time deterred scrupulous agents from showing up uninvited and enrolling a Medicare beneficiary into a plan. Additionally it prevented agents from doing a bait and switch, basically coming to your home about one thing but with the clear intention of selling you a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan instead.

If agents don’t get these forms completed they would receive disciplinary action which could include: not getting compensated for a sale, retraining, losing their contract and even worse losing their insurance license.

So what’s the big deal?

You mean besides that it’s cumbersome, confusing and almost scary? Then nothing.

Just recently I had a client hang up the phone on me because I said I needed a Scope of Appointment signed before I could meet up and discuss a Medicare Advantage plan! While most people don’t react that way there is a considerable amount that get scared away and don’t learn about these products.

If you are Medicare beneficiary should you not sign a Scope of Appointment?

With anything you should first have to consider who is asking you to sign it, one must READ what it says to confirm that it’s legitimate and lastly understand that a Scope of Appointment doesn’t sign you up for anything, it says it right on the document. It just allows the agent to discuss a type of product.

If you are interested in learning about a Medicare Advantage or a Prescription Drug plan, you’ll have to complete a Scope of Appointment (few exceptions apply). Many companies are doing Telephonic Scope of Appointments, this way the process is not cumbersome on paper instead it’s cumbersome over the phone, Ha!

Ok so now that you know what a Scope of Appointment is you’ll at least know that you don’t have to run away. It’s just the rule agents have to abide by to be compliant.

 

2 comments

  1. You must have meant “unscrupulous” wherever I read the word “scrupulous.” As for the Scope of Appointment business, calling the document “Permission to Discuss Medicare Advantage Plan” would be a lot more truthful and enlightening, so why not just call it that or describe it as such?

    1. Yes, Thank you Claude for catching my typo. I agree it would sound a lot better to call it “Permission to Discuss Medicare Advantage Plan” but the only problem is there are other products too. That may be the reason why a generic “Scope of Appointment” was chosen.

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