Medicare Gift Rules: What Are They & What Should Agents Know About Them?

Medicare agents have to follow a set of rules when they want to distribute giveaways or gifts. If they ignore the Medicare gift rules, they can run into trouble with CMS.

Gift Value Limit, Annual Maximum

Medicare agents can gift items as long as they have nominal value. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has set that limit as $15 per person, with a yearly limit of $75 per person. Agents can offer gifts larger than $75 in value, but they must follow the $15 per person rule. If you host an event with 20 attendees, you can offer a gift with a value no higher than $300, which comes out to $15 per person.

No Cash

As a Medicare agent, you cannot gift cash. No cash and no monetary rebates are allowed as gifts. That means no cash prizes and no 50/50 raffle. In practice, Medicare agents are not able to give any cash incentive to clients for referrals or to prospects for signing up for a policy.

No Big-Box Store Gift Cards

One workaround to the “no cash” rule is through the use of gift cards. You can give a person a $15 gift card and not be penalized. However, the gift card cannot be for a big-box store such as Walmart or Target. Money for those stores is seen as cash. Instead, Medicare agents can give out gift cards to smaller businesses, gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and more. Savvy business owners take this as an opportunity to support local businesses, which boosts the chance for referrals and a sense of community.

No Gift Discrimination

You must offer your gift to everyone equally. Even if the recipient does not book an appointment or purchase a policy through you, they still must receive the same chance at a prize or be given the giveaway without discrimination.

No Meals

Under the Medicare rules, meals cannot be gifts. To avoid that trouble, Medicare agents serve only light snacks and refreshments at marketing events.

Gifting as a Medicare Agent Is Simple

It’s not difficult to be compliant with the Medicare gift rules. Agents can be mindful of the monetary value  limit per person per year and gift non-cash, nominally valuable items. If they choose to hand out gift cards, agents can choose popular local restaurants or small shops and build community. They will give out all gifts without discrimination and remember to serve only light snacks instead of food at any marketing events.

For more about how Medicare agents can stay compliant with giveaways, review the CMS guidelines.