NCQA’s Guidelines for Advertising and Marketing

NCQA developed advertising and marketing guidelines to help customers promote their NCQA achievements clearly and equitably. The guidelines also help protect the value and integrity of NCQA programs and our customers’ achievements.

Advertising and Marketing Materials

References below to “advertising,” “advertising material,” or “advertising and marketing materials” in the following document encompass all external and internal communications including, but not limited to:

  • All printed material.
  • TV ads.
  • Radio ads.
  • Posters.
  • Annual reports.
  • Billboards.
  • Press releases.
  • Newsletters.
  • Responses to requests for proposals (RFPs).
  • Responses to requests for information (RFIs).
  • HEDIS® Report Cards.
  • Durable products (e.g. mugs, t-shirts).
  • Letters to employers.
  • Letters to practitioners.
  • Letters to providers.
  • Letters to consumers.
  • Letters to insurance brokers.
  • Marketing & sales brochures.
  • Social media posts.
  • Websites or other electronic material.
  • Any other promotional material.

Link to NCQA Website

NCQA encourages organizations that have received Accreditation, Certification, Recognition, Distinction or other NCQA status to use the NCQA website as a resource. You may provide a link to the NCQA website, www.ncqa.org.

Guidelines for Marketing and Advertising NCQA Status

  • NCQA awards many of its accreditation and certification statuses by product. Where applicable, organizations should clearly indicate the product earning NCQA status. If all products achieve the same level of status, the organization does not have to indicate which products have that status.
  • Organizations must always advertise their most current status. Descriptions about past statuses can be used and should be accurate. If a status has expired, the organization may not distribute any materials that reflect the expired status.
  • Organizations may attach the NCQA seal of their most current status to their letterhead, emails and business cards.
  • Organizations that reference their status should always capitalize the first letter in the status level (e.g., Excellent, Full, Commendable) and the words “Accreditation”, “Certification,” “Recognition,” or “Distinction.”
  • Organizations may not use any part of their “Final Results” for marketing purposes (with the exception of purchaser communications such as responses to RFPs as further elaborated in these Guidelines under the section entitled “Final Status Report(s))
    • This includes references to overall score, including any reference to a “perfect score,” “near-perfect score,” or any numeric representation of Accreditation scores (e.g. 97.5%).
  • Organizations may not list their final HEDIS® score from the Final Assessment Report. However, they may list individual HEDIS rates.
  • Organizations may advertise that they are either awaiting the results of a survey or are scheduled for a survey.
  • Organizations with a designated NCQA status may use pre-approved quotations from NCQA staff members in their advertising material.
  • Status may not be referred to as a “rank” or “ranking.” Instead, organizations are encouraged to use the term “rate” or “rating.”
  • Organizations are not required to advertise their status effective or expiration dates.
  • It is the organization’s responsibility to make sure that no other advertising materials are in use beyond the expiration date of their NCQA status, including commercials, billboards and letterheads.
  • Should your Accreditation/Certification status change, you are responsible for updating all promotional items, and must cease distribution of all materials with incorrect status. Updating of website and other distributed materials should take place within 30 days of the status change.

Regional Comparison

  • Organizations may say they have the first product or organization in a particular state or city to earn a designation.
  • If an organization is the second, third, fourth, etc. in a state or city to earn a specific NCQA status, it may promote this status by acknowledging (for example) that they are “one of two organizations” or “one of five organizations in the state.” Organizations must footnote actual statistic.

Final Status Report(s)

NCQA considers the following to be components of the Final Status Report:

  • Final completed Survey Tool (excluding attachments)
  • Accreditation status summary
  • Final numeric score sheets
  • HEDIS score sheets (applicable to HPA’s only)
  • Standards score sheet
  • Data collection tool
  • Workbooks

Organizations may not use standard scores, HEDIS scores, or the total score in their
marketing campaigns. However, organizations may, at their discretion, release any of the following to purchasers and regulators:

  • The Final Report in its entirety as defined above.
  • All relevant score sheets (including the Summary Score Sheet, HEDIS Score Sheet(s), and the Standards Score Sheet).

Recommended Language

Description of NCQA

  • NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality.
  • NCQA is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to assessing and reporting on the quality of managed care plans, managed behavioral healthcare organizations, preferred provider organizations, new health plans, physician organizations, credentials verification organizations, disease management programs and other health-related programs.
  • NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations and manages the evolution of HEDIS®, the performance measurement tool used by more than 90 percent of the nation’s health plans.
  • NCQA is governed by a Board of Directors that includes employers, consumers, health plans, quality experts, policy makers and representatives from organized medicine.
  • NCQA’s website (www.ncqa.org) contains information to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices.
  • Consumers can easily access organizations’ NCQA statuses and other information on health care quality on NCQA’s website at www.ncqa.org, or by calling NCQA Customer Support at (888) 275-7585.
  • NCQA’s mission is to improve the quality of health care.

Description of HEDIS (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set)

  • HEDIS is the measurement tool used by the nation’s health plans to evaluate their performance in terms of clinical quality and customer service.
  • HEDIS is a set of standardized performance measures designed to ensure that purchasers and consumers have the information they need to reliably compare the health care quality.

Report Cards

Organizations may advertise their Report Cards results as found on NCQA’s Website. An organization may highlight one or more reporting categories (e.g., Access and Service, Qualified Providers) in marketing materials, provided that results from all categories are included in the piece.

Organizations may use statistics from the Report Cards in their promotional material provided they use these statistics in a format that is accurate and understandable by the consumer. All advertising and marketing should include the date of the Report Cards from which they were drawn. Organizations should be aware that these statistics change every month and need to be responsible for checking this. Some durable goods may need to be corrected with the appropriate statistic if necessary.

Organizations can obtain the Report Cards through NCQA’s Website at www.ncqa.org.

Use of NCQA Logo

The use and reproduction of NCQA’s logo is strictly prohibited. Organizations including those who have received Accreditation, Certification, Recognition or other distinction from NCQA are prohibited from using the NCQA logo in any marketing and advertising materials including websites, emails and other web-based applications. If you would like to provide a link to NCQA’s website, please use www.ncqa.org.

Use of Program Seals

The NCQA program seals are recognizable symbol of health care quality. NCQA encourages all organizations that have achieved an NCQA status to display their seal(s) in marketing and advertising material. The information below will help you locate and download seals from the NCQA website and provides instructions on the appropriate use of the seals.

  • Each program has an individual and unique seal. Only organizations that have received notification from NCQA as to their status may display and use seals for marketing and advertising purposes. Please refer to your specific program guidelines for instructions on how to use program seals.
  • You can access individual program seals on the NCQA website at www.ncqa.org/seals
  • Seals are available in EPS and JPG formats.
  • Seals must not be manipulated in any way, shape or form. These seals may be printed in full color or grayscale format.
  • Seals should be displayed in a readable format and the overall depiction should be consistent with NCQA’s graphical image.
  • NCQA issues seals for multiple product lines.
  • Organizations with all product lines and products achieving the same level of status may display the seal as it is. However, organizations must write the product name(s) underneath/beside the seal, or clearly indicate in the text of the ad if other product lines did not receive the same level of status.
  • Organizations should be aware that NCQA Accreditation, Certification, Recognition,
  • Distinction or other NCQA status statuses can change which may affect the statement on
  • Durable goods (e.g.: a billboard that is no longer accurate will have to be corrected). It is the organization’s responsibility to maintain and update accurate marketing materials. Should your status change, you are responsible for updating all promotional items, and must cease distribution of all materials with incorrect status information. Updating of website and other distributed materials should take place within 30 days of the status change.

Approved Quotes

Please refer to respective product or program-specific advertising and marketing guidelines for approved quotes. They may be used alone or in combination with other language. Quotes may not be modified or altered in any way.

Trademarks and Symbols

HEDIS®

The Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) is a registered trademark of NCQA. The registered trademark symbol should be applied directly after the “HEDIS.” The organization need only apply the trademark to the first reference of the term “HEDIS” within the written material. At the bottom of the page where the registered trademark first appears there should be a footnote which states “HEDIS® is a registered trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).”

Quality Compass®

Quality Compass is a registered trademark of NCQA. The registered trademark symbol should be applied directly after the word “Compass.” The organization need only apply the trademark to the first reference of the term “Quality Compass” within the written material. At the bottom of the page where the registered trademark first appears there should be a footnote which states “Quality Compass® is a registered trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).”

NCQA HEDIS Compliance Audit

NCQA HEDIS Compliance Audit is a trademark of NCQA. The trademark symbol should be applied directly after the word “Audit.” The organization need only apply the trademark to the first reference of the term “NCQA HEDIS Compliance Audit” within the written material. At the bottom of the page where the trademark first appears there should be a footnote which states “NCQA HEDIS Compliance Audit™ is a trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).”

CAHPS®

CAHPS® is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The registered trademark symbol should be applied directly after the word “CAHPS®.” The organization must apply the trademark to the first reference of the term “CAHPS” within the written material. At the bottom of the page where the trademark first appears there should be a footnote which states “CAHPS® is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).”

Press Releases

All the preceding rules apply to press releases.

Organizations are welcome to create their own press releases mentioning their NCQA product/status. The press release must include a description of the NCQA product from the product-specific guidelines and the NCQA boiler plate:

  • NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA’s website (www.ncqa.org) contains information to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices.

Submit questions about press releases through My NCQA.

Compliance

It is the responsibility of the organization to follow and conform to all applicable NCQA Marketing and Advertising Guidelines. The information referencing your NCQA status or product must be accurate and not misleading. Only the organization that obtained the NCQA status can advertise such status and use the corresponding seal. The organizations’ affiliates, including delegated entities, contractors and partners, are not allowed to use the NCQA status and seal. Failure to comply with these guidelines may jeopardize the organization’s NCQA status.

In addition, NCQA will conduct periodic audits of customers’ marketing and advertising materials at any time to ensure that marketing materials are true, not misleading, and that the organization’s NCQA status is represented correctly. Failure to participate in the NCQA audit or refuse to comply with NCQA’s request to address inaccuracies in information related to NCQA, NCQA status and/or product in your marketing and/or advertising materials constitutes a violation of NCQA’s advertising guidelines and may result in, at NCQA’s discretion, a revocation of an organization’s NCQA status(es).

The organizations must maintain all copies of their marketing and advertising materials referencing NCQA status(es) and/or product(s) released or used in the past six months.

NCQA reserves the right to require an organization to withdraw their advertising materials from distribution immediately or to publish, at the organization’s cost, a retraction and/or clarification in connection with any false or misleading statements or any violation of all applicable NCQA Marketing and Advertising Guidelines. Each organization agrees in advance to remedy such violation with the action deemed appropriate by NCQA.

Special Situations

NCQA realizes that these guidelines may not address all potential marketing and advertising materials. In such instances, organizations should contact the NCQA Marketing department through My NCQA to discuss the proposed marketing/advertising activity and associated marketing and/or advertising materials to achieve outcomes consistent with the spirit of these guidelines.

NCQA will respond to complaints regarding inaccurate and/or misleading advertising materials by our customers and their affiliates. Such complaints could initiate an audit of an organization’s materials outside of the regular audit process.

Thank you for observing these guidelines. Submit questions about these guidelines through My NCQA.

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