What’s this Certification All About?
CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has put guidelines in place to control when & how Medicare Advantage plans are sold. Agents must comply with these guidelines or face serious consequences, including investigation by their state insurance department and possible loss of their license. Certification is a CMS requirement to market or sell Medicare products and to be eligible to receive commissions.
This certification includes training and testing in the basics of Medicare, CMS guidelines, plan options, marketing and enrollment requirements. Okay, you can loosen your grip on the stress ball – it’s not THAT bad! Certification requirements vary from carrier to carrier.
America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is the national trade association representing the health insurance industry. AHIP’s members provide health and supplemental benefits through the individual and group insurance market and public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMs) requires annual certification of all insurance agents that will market and sell Medicare Advantage Plans. This annual AHIP training helps insurance professionals provide accurate and appropriate information to Medicare Beneficiaries. The training outlines how to explain Medicare Advantage plan benefits and the requirements for marketing and enrollment. The AHIP test consists of 5 modules with a practice test at the end. The Final Certification Exam is a timed 90-question test – and requires a 90% score to pass. You are allowed 3 attempts to pass the exam. There is a fee to take the course, but some insurance carriers will waive or reduce the fee.
For more information visit the AHIP website
The Annual Election Period (AEP) occurs annually from October 15-December 7. These dates are mandated by CMS. During the AEP, a consumer can make a new plan choice and any type of Medicare plan can be selected. The new plan chosen during this time frame will then have an effective date of January 1 of the following year. Consumers look forward to this time and agents are quite busy scheduling appointments to meet and discuss these plans. In order to write these plans on a timely basis, the agent must pass certification testing prior to taking an application from their client. It is very important to be aware of when Certification is available. We post this information on our website and send notifications via e-mail. Timewise, it is best to allow several hours per carrier to take the tests. Most carriers try to have their certification testing available to agents in mid-July. By completing the certifications early, an agent can then order supplies and ensure they are ready to work with their clients for the new year.