As the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) approaches, there are several steps that agents should take to be ready-to-sell.
We’ll be focusing on the steps that new agents need to take. These steps are mostly the same for returning agents, with a few differences. We’ll mention those when appropriate.
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Additionally, preparing for OEP can be different based on if you’re selling on the federal or state exchange(s), or both. We’ll note these differences as well, so you can be prepared to sell on both exchanges.
1. Complete the FFM Certification & State Training — Early August
All agents selling Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans are required to complete certification or training, depending on which exchange they are selling plans in. For the federal exchange, agents are required to complete the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) certification. Each state-based marketplace has its own training. If you’re an agent only selling in one exchange and not the other, you only need to complete the training for your exchange.
The Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) Certification
New-to-the-marketplace agents will have to complete the full version of the FFM certification. Agents can complete this training through CMS’ MLMS platform or an approved vendor.
Those who have previously completed the FFM certification are able to take a condensed version of the training. You’ll be automatically enrolled in this condensed training if you’ve successfully completed training for the plan year prior.
Read our in-depth guide to becoming FFM-certified for more information and helpful tips.
State-based marketplaces (SBMs) are operated independently by the state, rather than overseen by the federal government. Agents enrolling clients residing in SBM states must complete training through the state’s platform.
Training start dates, deadlines, and links vary by state. OEP dates may also differ in some states.
Here are the links to the SBMs Ritter currently works with:
For more information about completing training for state exchanges, reference our post “2024 ACA Exchange & FFM Certification Info.”
2. Complete Carrier Contracts — Summer
Before selling ACA plans, agents and brokers must contract with carriers available in their market within the states they’re licensed to sell these products in. As a Ritter agent (registering with our site is free!), you can complete carrier contracts within the Ritter platform in just a few steps.
- Log in to the Ritter Platform
- Select the Contracts tab
- Click Contract Now
- Select Under 65 Health as the product
- Select the states that you are approved to sell in
You can also reach out to Ritter’s team of sales specialists for assistance or recommendations for your market.
Completing carrier contracts allows you to have a full portfolio of products for a variety of clients in your book of business. Consider adding carriers that offer benefit-rich plans; Ritter has many to offer!
3. Become an ACA Pro — All Year Long
To properly advocate for and serve your marketplace clients, we recommend becoming familiar with the products in your portfolio and how the exchanges operate. We’ve created a number of resources and training opportunities to help agents to get familiar with this line of business.
- Surviving OEP Page — This central hub has all the information you need to prepare for OEP, including categories of helpful blog posts and other resources. We’ll update this page throughout the year to include information relevant to agents during the OEP and post-OEP.
- Under-65 Health Products Page — This Ritter Docs page hosts information about each products’ carriers, certification information, and other helpful notes for agents! This page gets updated frequently to keep you up to date!
- Webinars and In-Person Events — Hear product and industry experts share their knowledge live or on demand.
- ACA eBook — Download our comprehensive guide that explains what you need to know about the ACA and how to master the market.
- Knight School — Self-guided online modules for training and education are available whenever you are.
- Ritter Blog — We’re constantly adding new posts about a variety of topics and newsworthy updates.
- ASG Podcast — Our in-house podcast covers industry news and helpful tools for agents.
4. Market Yourself — Before October
The next step of OEP preparation is making sure potential clients are aware of your services! Increase your sales by connecting with existing clients and marketing your business to new clients.
Some carriers have marketing materials available for agents to use. These can be either carrier-specific or generic, so you’re sure to find something that works for you. You can find these resources on most agent portals on carrier websites.
We recommend getting in touch with your local community — you can easily meet in person, after all! Since your clients are under 65, most of them are also online. Use social media and other digital resources to share your business.
You can also participate in HealthCare.gov’s Find Local Help, also referred to as “Help on Demand." To participate in this program for federal exchange states, agents must complete the “Help on Demand” training course after completing the FFM certification. This supplementary training is brief and educates agents on how to take advantage of the tool.
To add your information to Find Local Help:
- Create an account with the CMS Enterprise Portal. If you already have an account but haven’t used it recently, you may need to renew your account for the 2024 plan year.
- Identify yourself as an agent or broker by selecting Request Access Now, then choosing the FFM/Training- Agents/Brokers/Assisters title page, and then selecting FFM Agent Broker from the drop-down menu.
- Confirm your identity by following the prompts on the page.
- Complete the “Help on Demand” training and sign the privacy agreements, if you haven’t already.
- Confirm that your National Producer Numbers (NPNs) are listed as valid on the Agent and Broker FFM Registration Completion List.
- When completing your profile, you’ll be asked if you’d like to be displayed on the Find Local Help page. Select yes.
- Enter your information and click the Save/Update button.
CMS will then verify your information and you can move forward with finalizing your Find Local Help page. Follow this guide to get in touch with potential clients!
Most state marketplaces provide an option that’s similar to this federal program; check with the exchanges that you’re selling in for their option. Then, familiarize yourself with their requirements to participate if you’re interested.
5. Start Selling ACA Plans — November 1
Finally, the OEP is just around the corner, and it’s time to start meeting with clients and finding the right plan for them. If you can, discuss coverage options with your clients before November 1. Help your clients find health care that suits their needs. Federal exchange clients can enroll through HealthSherpa, another direct enrollment partner, or HealthCare.gov. Clients in SBMs will enroll through their state’s marketplace platform.
Consider core coverages as well as supplemental coverages, such as marketplace dental plans which can be sold during the OEP.
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Register with our site to gain free access to our full library of tools and resources. If you have any questions or want product details or contracting assistance, get in touch with your Ritter sales specialist and start earning more selling ACA insurance.