Agents who sell within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance marketplace must complete an annual certification before they can sell each year. This is known as the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) certification.
Medicare agents may be familiar with the similar annual AHIP training and product certifications. We’ll discuss how these differ and what exactly what you need to know to complete FFM training. Thankfully — it’s easier than you may think (and FREE)!
What’s the Difference Between FFM & AHIP Certification?
Like AHIP, FFM certification is a federal requirement, however, FFM certification is completely free! While FFM certification applies to ACA/under-65 health products, AHIP certification applies to Medicare products.
FFM training is managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) through their Marketplace Learning Management System (MLMS). This is also slightly different than AHIP, which, while federally mandated, is not directly carried out through CMS.
While the process is slightly different for returning agents who are renewing their FFM certification, we will be focusing on how agents who are registering to sell marketplace plans for the first time can get started!
Still have questions about ACA certification and training? We’ve answered some frequently asked questions in another post.
Getting Started with FFM Training
We feel the process for beginning training for the FFM is easier than it is for AHIP, and it’s also free — already a big improvement. To find when the FFM is available to you, follow the Ritter blog for updates or our Under-65 product page if you’re already registered as a Ritter agent. We make frequent updates to make sure you can stay on top of all the certifications and trainings you need. The 2024 FFM training is available for agents starting August 2, 2023. The 2024 certification will allow agents to sell for the remainder of 2023.
Register and/or Log In
To begin, navigate to the CMS Enterprise Portal and register as a new user unless you already have an account. In that case, simply log in using the credentials you’ve already created.
Find the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM)/Request for MLMS Training Access option under the Choose Your Application drop-down menu, then follow the instructions as they’re prompted until you receive a confirmation email ensuring your account was created successfully.
The process for beginning FFM training is easier than it is for AHIP, and it’s also free — already a big improvement.
Once logged in to the portal after confirming your account
- Go to My Portal
- Select Add Application
- Find and select Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM)/Request for MLMS Training Access from the search bar
- Click Next
- From this new webpage, select Agent Broker Training Access and proceed using the Next button again
Verify Your Identity & Complete Your Profile
After requesting the Agent Broker Training Access, you’ll be given instructions on how to verify your identity remotely through the internet, or over the phone through Experian if electronic verification isn’t possible. Luckily, this verification process only needs to be completed once, so if you’ve done so for CMS in the past, you’re good to go!
Begin and Complete the Training
Once your identity has been confirmed:
- Log back into the CMS Enterprise Portal
- Find and click Marketplace Training – Agent Broker
- Follow the MLMS Training link to complete all applicable information to finish your profile
- Select the role of Only an Individual Marketplace Agent Broker
The other available options are Only a SHOP Marketplace Agent Broker, Both an Individual and SHOP Marketplace Agent Broker, and Not an Agent Broker. To sell to individuals, you only need to worry about the first selection. This will personalize the fields you’ll fill out to be specific to the type of agent you are. Make sure you have your NPN handy — as with Medicare sales — this will be used to verify your identity and certification status as a marketplace agent.
Once your profile is complete, navigate back to the CMS Enterprise Portal, go to Marketplace Training – Agent Broker and select MLMS Training, where you will enroll in and complete the training you’ve previously chosen.
Make sure you have your NPN handy, as just with Medicare sales — this will be used to verify your identity and certification status as a Marketplace agent.
What’s Covered in the MLMS Training?
There are multiple training modules you’re required to complete before taking four exams, including a new module and exam that cover the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Other modules include ACA Basics, Eligibility for/Enrolling in a QHP (Qualified Health Plan), Information Security, and more.
The four exams you must take and score 70 percent or higher on after completing the modules include:
- Basics Exam
- Individual Marketplace Exam
- Privacy and Security Standards Exam
- American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Exam
Vendors & Continuing Education Units
Agents may have the opportunity to take FFM training through approved vendors. Some vendors offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for completing FFM training in some states.
HealthSherpa is offering CEUs to agents in the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, OH, OK, OR, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, and WY.
Agents can also utilize INXSCloud, another Enhanced Direct Enrollment (EDE) partner, to participate in FFM vendor training. INXSCloud is offering CEUs in the following states: AL, AZ, NE, NC, and ND.
Make sure you have your NPN handy — as just with Medicare sales, this will be used to verify your identity and certification status as a marketplace agent.
Review the appropriate agreements and sign them after finishing the training and successfully passing your exams. After accepting the agreement, you’ll be redirected back to the CMS Enterprise Portal, where you’ll navigate to your completion certificates. You can print out your certificates, which will include information such as your name, NPN(s), the market segment(s), the plan year, and the date you completed your FFM registration. You can also track your registration statuses on the Agent and Broker Marketplace Registration Tracker page.
You’ll also want to confirm you’re certified by finding your information on the Agent and Broker FFM Registration Completion List (RCL). Both sites may take up to one or two days for your correct information to be updated and displayed in their databases.
For a detailed breakdown of each of the aforementioned steps, as well as an extensive list of helpful resources, please refer to this presentation from CMS.
Once you’re FFM certified, you’re all set to find contracts and start building a product portfolio! We suggest working with a field marketing organization (FMO), such as Ritter Insurance Marketing, to get you started on the right foot with direct access to carrier contracts, seamless online enrollment technology, dedicated agent support, and so much more!
If you have any questions about FFM certification or finding competitive contracts, contact your Ritter sales specialist for assistance or to get started.
Editor’s Note: This was originally published in January 2022. It has been updated to include information more relevant to 2023.