2 New Gifts From The Feds For Health Insurance Agents On The Exchange
The health insurance exchanges have now been in operation for two years and is about to begin its third season in less than two months. For agents working on the Federal Exchange Things will be a little different this year. Only time will tell if these changes will turn into a blessing or a curse.
1. FFM agents now have four options to get their training to be certified to sell health insurance on the federal exchange. They can go directly with CMS Enterprise Portal. This course is free. The other options are getting training from American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), National Association Of Health Insurance Underwriters (NAHU) or Gorman Health Group. To use any of the new options agents will have to pay a fee. The bonus is they will be able to get continuing education credits by choosing one of the new vendor sites.
2. In an article entitled "CCIIO to Launch Agent Hotline For Federal Marketplace" by Brian M Kalish mentions that the FFM will be providing a hotline for agents to answer general questions they might have about the Marketplace. When will it available? That remains a mystery.
Are these good options? That depends on who you ask. For agents that want CE credits perhaps. But an even greater gift would be making the training available well in advance of the open enrollment period. CE credits are great but since not all states have the same standards for getting CE credits which require a little more planning on the part of the agent such as in states that require proctoring of exams and do not allow you to test until you have completed all modules in a closed book fashion.
As of September 13, 2015 training has not been available to agents who are eager to get started. Hopefully history will not repeat itself when everyone rushes to get the training done at the same time. Will the site crash if the majority go for the free option? Will CMS record agents course completion in a timely manner? If they make an error do they have a plan to correct it?
The hotline is a good thought but most agents who have been working on the FFM since the beginning usually do not need help with general questions. After two years of experience and hard lessons learned they need help solving tough cases with issues that are hard to resolve. It needs to be well staffed by knowledgeable people.