At this point, most agents have begun to realize that there might be a higher-than-normal demand for individual health insurance this fall. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a lot of companies to furlough or lay off employees, causing them to lose their health coverage. While COBRA is an option for some, others worked for companies that have had to drop their group health plan altogether, leaving them with no continuation option.
Predictably, many of these individuals will be shopping for individual coverage, first through a special enrollment period when they lose their coverage and again during the annual open enrollment period this fall. Open enrollment begins November 1.
Additionally, millions of people—some who previously had health coverage and some who did not—have experienced a significant reduction in income for much of 2020, and this will likely continue for the foreseeable future. Many of these folks will now qualify for a premium tax credit and possibly a cost sharing subsidy, even if they haven’t in the past.
- More people than normal will be shopping for individual plans in just a few weeks.
- A large percentage of these individuals will qualify for government assistance to help them pay for their policy.
Long story short, these are great prospects.
The only way to take advantage of this opportunity, however, is to get certified to sell through Healthcare.gov (or your state-based exchange), and that certification process has already begun.
Most AHCP brokers have completed the Marketplace certification process in the past. In fact, you probably do that every year. If not, you will need to complete the full training, as CMS explains:
Agents and brokers who are new to the Marketplace this year, or who did not complete plan year 2020 registration and training, are required to take the full Individual Marketplace training for plan year 2021. New agents and brokers can take Individual Marketplace training either through the Marketplace Learning Management System (MLMS) or the CMS-approved vendor.
The process is shorter for returning agents and brokers:
Agents and brokers who completed plan year 2020 Individual Marketplace registration and training will be eligible to take shorter training for plan year 2021, as well as optional review modules. Returning agents and brokers can take training either through the MLMS or the CMS-approved vendor regardless of how they completed the plan year 2020 training.
While training isn’t always fun, especially if you already know most of the material, it is a necessary evil, so we’d encourage you not to procrastinate; go ahead and complete the required certification now so you’re able to help individual clients and prospects when open enrollment begins November 1. We’re entering the fourth quarter, and the next several months will be really busy, so it’s best to complete this task before the floodgates open.
One last thing: if you’re not yet appointed with all of the carriers AHCP works with in your market, now is a great time to complete the paperwork. You want to make sure that you can offer as many solutions to your clients as possible, and AHCP offers more than 500 products with almost 50 carriers. Visit our carrier page to learn about all of the vendors we work with. Once appointed, you can take advantage of our pre-recorded training classes to learn more about each of our solution providers.