You have your leads in hand and your contracts signed, so you’re ready to sell, right? Well… almost. Did you complete your AHIP certification yet?
Remember, the government administers Medicare Advantage plans — and that means there are rules for selling them. But there’s no need to worry! The required certifications, such as AHIP training, are in place to help protect seniors and reward agents who do things the right way.
For quick background, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) formed in 2013 when the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA) and American Association of Health Plans (AAHP) merged. AHIP represents nearly 1,300 companies that offer health insurance to more than 200 million Americans. As a national trade association in the health insurance industry, AHIP lobbies to create a more affordable health care system through research and policy.
In order to sell Medicare Advantage plans during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), most insurers require completion of AHIP’s Medicare training courses. Insurers generally require AHIP to assure that agents selling their plans are compliant with the latest CMS guidelines and regulations.
AHIP Training is in place to help protect seniors and reward agents who do things the right way.
How Do You Get AHIP Certified?
AHIP 2021 certification is available on the AHIP website. The certification consists of two courses: Medicare and Fraud, Waste & Abuse (FWA).
The AHIP Medicare training covers the basics of eligibility and benefits, along with the different types of Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans. Teaching compliance with the marketing guidelines and proper enrollment procedure is an important part of this course.
FWA training covers industry efforts and tools to detect fraud in the Medicare program. The federal government takes fraud very seriously. This training educates you on the human and financial cost of FWA, as well as the proper reporting techniques.
Most Medicare Advantage insurers require their own product certifications in addition to AHIP. These vary from carrier to carrier and focus on that insurer’s specific plans. Agents can complete these certifications through carriers’ broker portals. You can learn more about your carriers’ product-specific trainings through Ritter’s Certification Center. (You must be logged in to RitterIM.com to view Ritter Docs and other resources mentioned in this article.)
Tips from Ritter on AHIP Training
We didn’t mention it yet, but AHIP isn’t free. Typically, the AHIP certification test costs $175, but many carriers offer a discounted rate of $125 if you take the exam through their agent portals. Keep checking Ritter’s carrier pages for information on which carriers will offer AHIP discounts.
The AHIP test costs $175, but you can get a discount if you take the exam through carrier portals.
Finally, there are dozens of self-study AHIP courses, all geared towards educating and improving the quality of agents in the marketplace. There is a time limit on the exam, but if you finish these courses before taking the test, things will be much simpler.
Fulfilling your AHIP certification should never be what holds you back from selling Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans. In fact, completing the AHIP certification is what separates quality agents like you from the others! Stay tuned to Ritter’s Certification Center for 2021 certification information as it becomes available.
FAQs About AHIP
Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, completing the annual AHIP certification is important for licensed insurance agents selling Medicare plans. We’ll answer some frequently asked questions about AHIP certification.
Do I need to pass AHIP if I already passed last year?
Yes. Since plans and regulations change year to year, you must pass the test annually in order to sell. The good news is you’re already at an advantage if you passed last year, because you’ve proven to have a good foundational knowledge of Medicare sales.
Note: Many carriers require agents to continue certifying with them to receive renewal commissions. AHIP is oftentimes part of carriers’ certification requirements.
Do I need to complete the AHIP training review questions?
Yes. New and returning agents must complete all review questions, at the end of the training modules, before taking the AHIP final exam. How you do with answering the review questions will not affect your score on the final exam.
How many attempts at the AHIP test do I get?
Three. If you fail three times, you can re-enroll and purchase another set of three attempts; however, many carriers will not accept three failures in a given year and prohibit you from selling their product during that plan year.
How long must I take between failed attempts?
It depends. There’s no set time you need to wait before trying the AHIP test again.
If you fall just below the passing threshold and feel confident in your knowledge, you can give it another go immediately. If you miss the mark by more than a few points, we’d recommend taking more time to study before your second or third attempt.
Do I have to take AHIP directly through their website?
No. If a carrier offers AHIP certification through their broker portal, you’ll be directed to a customized AHIP page for that carrier. In many cases, certifying through a carrier’s broker portal will give you a discount off your AHIP training that you wouldn’t receive by going directly through AHIPMedicareTraining.com.
How much does AHIP cost?
It costs $175 to take the 2021 AHIP certification test.
Can I get an AHIP certification discount?
Yes. Many carriers offer discounts on AHIP if you take the test through their broker portal. For 2021 certification, many carriers offer $50 off the $175 price. Additionally, some carriers are offering full AHIP reimbursement as a production incentive. Talk to your Ritter representative to contract with a carrier who offers AHIP incentives.
Is it possible to get $125 AHIP reimbursement?
YES! Ritter Insurance Marketing offered a $125 AHIP reimbursement incentive for the 2021 plan year. If you contracted with select carriers within seven days of attending a designated webinar of theirs this past summer, you could have qualified for $125 AHIP reimbursement!* Stay tuned for more information on incentives for 2022! For more on this incentive, its eligibility requirements, and qualifying carriers, webinars, and meetings, contact your Ritter representative!
*Agent had to be level 4, direct to Ritter, and had to pass AHIP and provide a receipt of purchase and certificate of completion for AHIP certification. Disbursement only occurs following carrier confirmation that the agent is “ready-to-sell.” Only one $125 reimbursement per a single agent per year. All payments should be disbursed to qualifying agents after January 1, 2022. Ritter is solely responsible for the distribution of the $125 reimbursement.
Is there a deadline to pass AHIP to sell in 2021?
Technically, yes. Passing AHIP is the initial step to completing most carrier certifications, so you won’t be “ready to sell” any MA plans until you do so. The 2021 AHIP course will eventually be replaced with 2022’s early next summer.
Is AHIP an open-book test?
Yes. You can print the training modules and use your notes while taking the test.
Is AHIP a timed test?
Yes. The final exam is 50 questions, and agents have two hours to complete it. The training modules for each section before the final exam are not timed and may take a few hours to get through if it’s your first time reading them.
What score do I need to pass?
90 percent. If you get a higher AHIP score, that’s great!
How much should I prepare?
It depends. If you’ve passed the AHIP exam before, you should be well-prepared to take it again. That’s the point of certifying in the first place — to become an expert!
If you’re a first-timer, don’t hesitate to set aside a week to prepare using the training modules. Medicare is a complex topic for all of us, and you want to be the most knowledgeable agent, right?
Advice for Passing AHIP
Even if you’ve taken the AHIP exam in the past, it never hurts to be prepared. Try using some of these tips to help you pass the test!
Make Sure You Study and Take Notes
We recommend using AHIP training modules and taking practice tests. Even if you think you know everything from passing it before, think again. A refresher can never hurt, but failing the test just might! When you study and prepare for the exam, engage yourself. Take notes and create your own studying system. You could even have a friend or family member quiz you to make sure you’re retaining the information. While the AHIP exam is an open-book test, it is timed. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have thorough notes, but make sure you’re very familiar with them.
A great way to cut down on time when searching for answers is to take advantage of technology. Have tabs open ahead of time that you’ll want to look at during the exam. You can also use split screens, or open a document and then size it to take up only part of your screen so you can look at multiple items at once. If your notes are in a Word document, try using Ctrl + F to find specific keywords or phrases to quickly jump to the section you’re looking for.
Ease Your Mind
While knowing the material is imperative to passing the test, there are other factors that can contribute to you either passing or failing. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep the day before the test. Find a spot to take the test with little to no distractions. Grab some water and a snack and don’t forget to have a positive mindset. A confident, optimistic attitude can go a long way!
For more strategies, tips, and tricks, check out our article, AHIP Test Tips and Tricks for Medicare Certification
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Editor’s Note: This was originally published in July 2016. It has been updated to include information more relevant to the 2021 Annual Enrollment Period.