Is Your Website up to CMS Standards? If Not, We Can Help

The ongoing requirements and regulations imposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services can create an administrative headache for health plans who already have a laundry list of things to accomplish every day.

All marketing materials – including a health plan’s website – must comply with CMS guidelines that are often confusing, extensive and time-consuming.

Here is an overview and reminder of the general website requirements CMS has issued for Plan/Part D sponsors. We’ll tackle social media and mobile rules in a future post, because there are rules there, too.

Tier 1 Pharmacy Consultants can help you update your website and ensure all of your marketing materials are CMS compliant.

What Health Plans Must Do

  • Build a website that is easy to understand and navigate.
  • Maintain the current website content through Dec. 31 of each year.
  • Notify visitors if there is a link that will take them to a non-Medicare information webpage or to a different website altogether.
  • Include applicable disclaimers on every page of the site.
  • Build a separate section for Medicare information covered by the guidelines if the health plan also markets other lines of business.
  • Review and update website content as needed, including ever-changing prescription drug prices and information.
  • Include the date of the last update on each page.
  • Label all links.
  • Comply with Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act, which requires agencies to make their electronic and information technology comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

Document Requirements

Health plans also are required to post a handful of downloadable documents, such as marketing materials and communication materials. The documents must be accurate and up-to-date at all times.

Some documents, such as the Summary of Benefits, Annual Notice of Change, Evidence of Coverage, Provider Directory, and Formulary all needed to be in place by Oct. 15 of last year. Others needed to be posted all year and had Jan. 1 deadline for updates.

The Privacy Notice under the HIPAA Privacy Rule; Exception Request Forms for Physicians; Utilization Management Forms for Physicians and Enrollees; the Prescription Drug Transition Policy; Prior Authorization Forms for Physicians and Enrollees; and Part D Model Coverage and Redetermination Request Forms needed to be post on a plan’s website by New Year’s Day.

If it was a struggle, we can make it easier next time around.

What Health Plan Websites Can’t Do

Just like there are rules outlining what plans must do, CMS also has put forth actions they are prohibited from doing, including:

  • Plans cannot link to foreign drug sales, including links from advertisements, on their websites.
  • Plans cannot instruct users to input personal information other than a zip code, county, and/or state for access to non-beneficiary specific website content.
  • Plans cannot claim that they are not responsible for the content of their social media pages, as well as the websites of any related party that provides information on the plan’s behalf, such as a public relations representative or social media specialist.

Plans Cannot Forget to Include

  • A toll-free customer service number, days and hours of operation and TTY number address.
  • Member rights and responsibilities upon disenrollment.
  • Instructions on how to appoint a representative along with a link to the downloadable version of the CMS Appointment of Representative Form.
  • Instructions on how to file a grievance and an appeal, including procedures for filing, a link to the webpage, the 1-800 MEDICARE number, mailing address, fax number, any forms created by the health plan for appeals and grievances and more.
  • The statement, “You must file Form 1040, ‘US Individual Income Tax Return,’ along with Form 8853, ‘Archer MSA and Long-Term Care Insurance Contracts’ with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for any distributions made from your Medicare MSA account to ensure you aren’t taxed on your MSA account withdrawals. You must file these tax forms for any year in which an MSA account withdrawal is made, even if you have no taxable income or other reason for filing a Form 1040. MSA account withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are tax free, while account withdrawals for non-medical expenses are subject to both income tax and a fifty (50) percent tax penalty.”
  • The statement, “Tax publications are available on the IRS website at or from 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).”
  • Enrollment instructions and forms.
  • Medication Therapy Management program requirements.

Remember, CMS has the right to directly enforce its provisions to ensure compliance. Don’t let it get to that point. Make sure your website is up to par.

 How we can help

 The team at Tier 1 Pharmacy Consulting can be the liaison between the health plan and the pharmacy benefit manager to help oversee the steps needed to ensure CMS compliance, including regular website updates. The Tier 1 team can offer solutions on how to properly and effectively institute the appropriate process for oversight and ensure health plan information and marketing is compliant, accurate and up-to-date all year.

We are experts in Medicare. Even the best health plans need CMS guidance. That’s why we’re here.

About Tier 1

Tier 1 Pharmacy Consulting is a Denver, Colorado-based pharmacy benefit consulting firm offering customized services to healthcare plans that offer prescription drug benefits. Whether your health plan is big or small, Tier 1 offers strategic, cost-saving solutions that boost the plan’s overall value and help its members by providing high quality care.

Tier 1’s founder is a clinical pharmacist with more than a decade of experience in pharmacy benefit management. We are passionate about collaborating and developing effective strategies to improve health plan outcomes.

Tier 1 offers health plans a new perspective on how to manage their pharmacy benefit. Our team is made up of experts who strive to make effective plans even stronger and fill in any gaps due to a lack of time or resources.

Drop us a note at Let’s get connected.