The Scope of Appointment: What It Is and Why Medicare Requires It
Imagine this: you find an insurance agent to help explain Medicare to you, and then in the middle of the meeting, they pull out a form and ask you to sign it.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. What’s this?
“A Scope of Appointment” your agent says. “It allows me to discuss the plan’s benefits with you and prevents me from talking to you about other types of insurance that you don’t want or need.”
You may think to yourself, “I’m not ready to sign up for a plan. I don’t want to sign this.”
While your agent strongly asserts that you’re not signing up for a plan or committing to sign up for a plan, the skeptical senior may have doubts. Perfectly understandable. After all, you may have only met this agent recently. But if you read the form, there is language that backs up what the agent has told you:
“Signing this form does NOT obligate you to enroll in a plan, affect your current enrollment, or enroll you into a Medicare plan.”
If you don’t believe the agent OR the form, do a quick search on the internet for “Scope of Appointment”.
Whenever you’re discussing a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D drug plan, the government mandates that the agent present this form and ask you to sign it. Note: it’s not required when discussing a Medigap Insurance Plan (Medicare Supplement.)
Why does the government require that the agent have you sign this form? Because there are numerous documented occurrences of seniors being taken advantage of – where the agent talks to the senior about Medicare, and then quickly transitions the conversation to other insurance products, possibly ignoring your Medicare needs altogether. The government knows this and uses this form to keep agents accountable. Agents are required to keep your signed authorization in a secure location that can be presented during an audit.
Agents also know that asking you to sign a Scope of Appointment may cause you to lose trust in them and withdraw from the conversation. What this should tell you is not to be skeptical when an agent asks you to sign the form, but rather to be skeptical when they DON’T ask you to sign the form.
The bottom line is that the Scope of Appointment doesn’t commit you to anything – it’s there to protect you from predatory behavior that disingenuous insurance agents may engage in. When you are presented with a Scope of Appointment form, look for the language that explains you’re not obligated to anything, and then sign the dotted line. You’re not signing your life away, you’re just there to learn.