Believe it or not, the 2021 Medicare Advantage Annual Election Period (AEP) is almost upon us. Don’t forget that the SEP for COVID-19, code SEP-DST is still in effect until June 30th. Anyone who had a previous SEP available, such as OEP, and had not used it yet, can still enroll until the end of the month. Open Enrollment Period (OEP), followed by the COVID-19 epidemic, has carried us right into certification season. The first step for selling in 2021 is to become certified. New agents would do well to remember that most carriers will accept the 2021 AHIP and product certifications as viable to sell for the remainder of the current year. Keep an eye out on our Medicare Toolkit, found on our homepage. We will be posting up to date information on carrier certification and product previews all the way up to AEP.
2021 Medicare Advantage Training instructions
Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans are both governed by the rules and subject to the oversight of CMS. As an agent, you need to be fully certified to offer those products to your clients. Certification and Ready-to-Sell status typically requires two pieces. First, Medicare basics training, including information on fraud, waste, and abuse. Second, training specific to each carrier and its products. The most common, and widely accepted, Medicare basics certification is through AHIP. AHIP consists of 5 training modules for agents taking the course for the first time or 2 modules in subsequent years. These modules will contain multiple mini-quizzes after each lesson, many of which will also appear on the final exam. The AHIP concludes with a 50-question final exam, followed by Fraud, Waste, and Abuse modules. You must score 90% or better on the final exam in order to pass. You get 3 chances to pass, after which you will have to pay again for an additional 3 chances. Be careful as some carriers will not allow you to write for them in the current year if you fail the AHIP test 3 times. The second most common standard basics course is through Gorman. Gorman is not accepted by every carrier. New for this year is a course and training through the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU).
2021 Medicare Advantage Training tips and extras
The only cost to certify is that of the Medicare basics test. AHIP has stayed at $175 again this year, with many companies offering a $50 discount through their portal. Certain carriers, like Aetna or Humana, will pay for your AHIP after writing a certain number of applications. The AHIP test will typically take between 2-6 hours to complete in full, so be sure to allow enough time. Many carriers will not allow their certifications to open until the AHIP is completed, so don’t waste until the last minute to finish. The company certifications will all be accessed through their agent portals and can vary greatly in terms of length of time as well as difficulty. Every test will have a study guide available either before or during the training process. You will want to download and keep those handy to help with your test preparedness. Carrier certifications will open beginning next week, starting with Anthem. They will continue to roll out up through August. There are only a few carriers who still require face-to-face certifications in certain situations, but most of those have allowed online training due to COVID-19. Be sure to contact us for more tips and tricks in the certification process.
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