Set yourself up for AEP success. The steps you take now – or the steps that you fail to take – will have a direct impact on your ability to help Medicare enrollees this fall. With this four-step plan, you can be ready to go.
Step One: AHIP
Does it feel like you just completed your AHIP training? Well, if you want to sell 2023 plans, it’s time to hit the books (or the online sessions) again.
Medicare Fraud, Waste, and Abuse recertification is needed every year, so no matter how long you’ve been in the business, you need to have this annual requirement under your belt before you can recertify with carriers.
Don’t procrastinate! It may seem like you have plenty of time to handle AHIP before AEP starts, but this is just the first step. AHIP’s new training season has begun, so it’s time to get started. This User Guide illustrates every step.
AHIP’s Medical Fraud, Waste, and Abuse training typically costs $175, but some carriers offer discounts. If you want the state CE credits available with the training, you will need to pay an additional fee – usually around $30.
Western Asset Protection (WAP) agents can access the list of AHIP Discounts by Carrier by signing into the Agent Portal, Medicare Engine and navigating to Cert Central (Must be signed in to view.) Agents contracted with WAP have access to a training checklist and guide, as well as carrier certification guidelines and discounts – all in one place. If you’re not contracted with WAP, you can also find information by visiting individual carrier portals.
Step Two: Carrier Recertifications
Once you’ve passed your AHIP test, you’re ready to tackle step two: recertifying with your carriers.
Most likely, you’ll want to recertify with all of the carriers whose plans you sold last year. There may be some exceptions, for example, if a carrier has pulled out of your area.
In addition to AHIP certification, these carriers may have additional requirements. Some require SNP certification while other carriers require HRA training. You will need to submit all of the required information and wait for approval. Different carriers can require slightly different things, so make sure you’re following directions.
This step can take time. If you finish your AHIP test in late June, you have the rest of June and July to handle your carrier recertifications.
To make things easier, we’ve created an easy all-in-one checklist available to WAP Agents in the Medicare Engine. The checklist tells you which carriers require face-to-face meetings, and whether or not our Annual AEP Rollout Conference, WAPCon fulfills the requirement, PLUS additional information.
WAP Agents can log into their agent portal to get the certification launch dates for each carrier.
Step Three: Add New Carriers
Once you’ve completed your recertification applications, you can shift your focus to looking for new carriers to add to your portfolio.
The number of Medicare plan options has been growing each year. For plan year 2022, KFF says there were 3,834 Medicare Advantage plans, and beneficiaries got to select from 39 different choices on average.
Variation among these plans has also been increasing as more carriers offer supplemental benefits like access to meals and fitness benefits. Some also offer worldwide emergency coverage, while others offer Special Needs Plans that cater to specific chronic conditions. Prescription coverage can also vary, and some plans have opted to participate in the Part D Senior Savings Model to offer affordable insulin.
With all of these coverage variations, it’s important to match each client with the right plan. The more carriers you contract with, the easier this will be for you.
Contracting with a large number of carriers can seem like a lot of work – because it can be – but it’s also a good way to make sure you’re serving your clients to the best of your abilities. And, keeps your client from going to the competition.
What to consider when deciding to add a carrier:
- Are there any carriers in your area that you’ve overlooked in the past? Even if they’re not the most popular plans, they might be a good fit for some of your clients. They may also have coverage changes that make them more attractive in 2023.
- Have any new carriers entered the Medicare market in your area? The Medicare carrier landscape is constantly changing. You don’t want to miss a hot new entry to the Medicare market in your region.
Step Four: Tie Up Loose Ends
By August, you should have your carrier certifications and recertifications mostly handled, but there may be some loose ends that require your attention.
Stay on top of your approvals. If there’s a problem, you want to figure out what went wrong so you can address the issue before AEP starts. Maybe there was a technical glitch, and the certification didn’t go through as a result. Maybe you overlooked one of the requirements, and you still need to do something. Keep track of when you should get approval, and if you don’t, follow up.
Ideally, you’ll have all of these carrier requirements completely squared away by the time September rolls around. That way, you’ll have to time to focus on getting ready for AEP.
Have a Great Summer and an Amazing AEP
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a relaxing summer. You deserve it, and you’ll need to recharge so you’ll be ready for a busy AEP. Just make sure you fit in time between poolside afternoons and fun getaways to handle your AHIP and other carrier requirements.
Do you need help with carrier appointments and AEP prep? Contact us.
Agents partnered with Western Asset Protection are encouraged to visit their Medicare Engine Agent Portal for quick access to AEP tools, job aids and important information.