Remember the good old days when agents took a test, got licensed, and then simply had to complete a few continuing education classes each year to maintain their license? Not anymore. If you sell in either the individual or the Medicare markets, the government requires agents to complete annual training to remain certified to sell through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM). And guess what? It’s that time of the year again.
To help agents with the registration and training requirements the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be hosting webinars for both new and returning agents.
The purpose of the webinar series is to walk agents and brokers through the registration process, give a brief overview of the SHOP Marketplace, and describe the option to complete training through one of the CMS-approved vendors.
While sessions are split by returning and new, agents and brokers are welcome to attend any of the sessions. Webinar registration is completed through the REGTAP website. REGTAP is an information hub for CMS technical assistance and contains training materials, training session registration, FAQs, and technical documents. The site sends notification to each registered user when new training sessions are announced or new materials added.
New REGTAP users will be required to create a REGTAP account prior to registering for the CMS webinars. Returning users will need to log in.
Agents selling Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans also have required annual training to complete.
Agents can complete the Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Training through AHIP. In fact, many carriers require agents to use AHIP for their general Medicare training. Additionally, many insurance companies have their own Medicare Advantage and Part D Certification Programs. While many of these certification programs can be completed online, they can take some time, so don’t procrastinate. The AHIP training for the 2017 AEP is already available, and so are most of the carrier-specific training programs.
AHIP’s training comes in two parts: Medicare, and Fraud, Waste & Abuse (FWA). As AHIP explains, “the comprehensive online program gives you the background to make informed decisions on Medicare, including plan options, marketing, enrollment requirements, and FWA guidelines.”
Most of the carrier training is product-specific and will teach you what you need to know to market that carrier’s Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D solutions. Again, the training for most carriers can be completed online and does require that you complete a mastery test. As Aetna explains, “It’s so important that you understand this information that you’ll need to get a score of 90% or better on the mastery test.” You are allowed three attempts to pass each mastery test.
We know training isn’t always fun, and some people get anxious when they have to take a test; we can definitely empathize with you. But keep in mind that both the individual and Medicare training is required for a reason: to make sure agents have the specialized knowledge they need to appropriately advise their clients and to help clients find the right solutions for themselves and their families. Without the training, agents may miss some important details and risk providing clients with incorrect or incomplete information.
If you have any questions about the training and certification requirements or need help deciding which lines of coverage you’d like to market this year, just ask—we’re happy to help.