As is the case each year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have updated guidelines and how they pertain to users. Those CMS guidelines are now available for calendar year 2017 and represent changes that will aid health insurance providers in addressing the needs of those underserved, including those who are facing language and accessibility barriers.

One major change regarding accessibility is section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557 is causing some confusion regarding accessibility, taglines, and nondiscriminatory notices. CQ fluency can help clients navigate through the changes, and get documents out as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. For changes specific to section 1557, please see our post about Section 1557 (link to new post), or contact us directly.

Draft of the 2017 Medicare Marketing Guidelines

For 2017, CMS has proposed an important update to the chapter 3 of the Medicare Marketing Guidelines regarding the Summary of Benefits as follows:

“Beginning CY 2017, HPMS will no longer generate the SB. Plans/Part D Sponsors must develop their own SB based on their bid data in HPMS and within the parameters of CMS’ upcoming SB guidance. The required data elements for the SB will be provided in the SB guidance memo. Plans/Part D Sponsors must include the SB when providing an enrollment form and upon an enrollee’s request.”

For more information, please visit our post devoted to the CMS Draft of the 2017 Medicare Marketing Guidelines.

CMS Guidelines for Call Centers

In the CMS guidelines, section 30.5 reveals the “Requirements Pertaining to Non-English Speaking Populations,” and states: All Plans’/Part D Sponsors’ call centers must have interpreter services available to call center personnel to answer questions from non-English speaking or limited English proficient beneficiaries. Call centers are those centers that receive calls from current and prospective enrollees. This requirement is in place regardless of the percentage of non-English speaking or LEP beneficiaries in a plan benefit package service area.

CMS Guidelines for Marketing Materials

Marketing materials must also be identifiable in:

  • Required Materials with an Enrollment Form
    • Star ratings document
    • Summary of Benefits (SB)
    • Multi-Language Insert
  • Required Materials for New and Renewing Enrollees at Time of Enrollment and Thereafter
  • Mailing Materials with Multiple Enrollees
  • Star Ratings Information from CMS


In addition to these guidelines, all materials must also be produced in the primary language of at least five percent of a Plan’s/Part D Sponsor’s plan benefit package service area. Of course, a provider’s service area could include multiple ethnicities or nationalities making up for more than five percent of a service area, complicating matters when it comes to properly translating marketing materials.

But what are the benefits of the CMS changes? The equity plan is designed to help increase quality of care by taking down language barriers, which will in turn lead to improvement in medication adherence, fewer emergency room visits, and consistency in annual checkups and screenings.

Solutions to Complex Challenges

Receiving proper healthcare can be a complex challenge for anyone, but more so for those not native to the language. Understanding who, what, where, and how to receive aid can be nearly impossible without the proper translation.

That’s where CQ fluency comes in. A leader in the healthcare communications industry, CQ has a wide range of services available to those in this exact position. Unlike many translation services, CQ has a deep understanding of CMS and compliance needs and often works as an advisor to companies needing assistance in best communicating with their limited English proficient members in compliance with regulations. In fact, when the guidelines are revised every year, we review them thoroughly and notify our clients of any changes that may have an impact on them.

Among CQ fluency’s solutions are, document translation, and phone interpretation: methods that can help providers reach customers seamlessly and ease the translation process.

CQ fluency’s document translation services team is fully equipped to deliver projects in any file type and format, including deliverables for digital and print documents.

As explained in the CMS guidelines, all Plans’/Part D Sponsors’ call centers must have interpreter services available to call center personnel to answer questions from non-English speaking or limited English proficient beneficiaries. This requirement is in place, the CMS says, regardless of non-English speaking or LEP beneficiaries in a plan benefit package service area.

Fortunately, CQ fluency is ready to help in this space. When serving customers over the phone, language barriers can prove to be frustrating. CQ offers professional phone interpretation services that remove barriers, and help providers to:

  • Reduce customer service agent time with non-English speakers, and
  • Comply with regulations regarding LEP populations

The conversation process is available 24/7 with a live operator, more than 150 language choices, and all interpreters are 100-percent United States based.

When people are more proactive and involved with their healthcare because they truly understand what is happening, which occurs through communication in their own language and cultural context, they will be healthier and have a reduced need to access their health insurance benefits.

Simply translating for those who need it may not be enough, however. CQ fluency doesn’t just translate content, because language is just one part of the overall communication process. The translation services culturally adapt the message – in this case, healthcare information – to increase audience engagement and build a presence in ethnic communities in the United States.

The Importance of Cultural Adaptation in Healthcare

In an ever-growing cultural landscape, it’s imperative for businesses to adapt to stay relevant and keep their customers’ best interest in mind. CQ fluency offers a free eBook about Cultural Adaptation and how it’s transforming healthcare communications.
The book will dive into topics like, “What is cultural adaptation and how does it work?” while also instructing what drives cultural differences and how new information can be put to work for your organization.
Click here to learn more and download the free eBook.

Contact Us

If you have any further questions or need additional assistance, please contact us or give us a call at 1.800.598.7957. If you would like to request a quote for a new project, please click the “request quote” button below and enter your information and we will turn around a quote as quickly as possible.