The new health insurance marketplaces will be open for business Oct. 1 (provided there are no setbacks from the government), and the quickly approaching deadline has got everyone in the country holding their breath.
An estimated 7 million consumers are expected to enroll through the marketplace in its inaugural enrollment period. That provides an enormous opportunity for agents who decide to participate.
For those of you who are interested in capitalizing on this potentially massive opportunity, it’s important to follow the right steps to ensure your success in the new market.
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Research your market
As you probably already know, marketplaces in all 50 states, plus Washington D.C., are categorized as a federally facilitated marketplace (FFM), state-partnership marketplace (SPM) or state-based marketplace (SBM) – and not all markets are created equally.
Do your research to find out where your state stands and what is required of agents who want to participate in on-exchange sales. Do you need to take a test, attend in-person training or register online?
A good place to start is your insurance commissioner’s website or your state’s health insurance exchange website.
Related story: Public is confused about state health exchanges
After doing your research, you’ll learn that each of the marketplaces, and even some states, require a certain amount of training before you can become certified to sell on-exchange health products to your clients.
FFM and SPM states require agents to become certified by the federal government (through the Centers for Medicare& Medicaid Service’s new training website) in order to get a marketplace user ID. Each of the SBM states have different regulations on what is required of agents, so make sure you’re fulfilling the right requirements.
Training has already begun in some states, so get the ball rolling as soon as possible to become certified before the enrollment begins.
Select which carriers you will represent
Once you’re certified to sell through your marketplace, it’s time to select which carriers you want to become appointed with. Each state is slowly starting to release their approved carriers for 2014, so once you have that information you can make your selection.
It’s important to keep things like rates, geographic availability and client demographics in mind when making your decision. If you aren’t already, you’ll need to become appointed to sell for those carriers.
Once you have an active appointment and writing number with your desired carriers, you need to complete any required training. Most carriers have short training modules that you can complete from home to help get you up to speed on their plans.
Start selling: Oct. 1
After you have successfully completed the steps mentioned, and submitted all necessary information to the state and federal governments and insurance carriers, you’ll be ready to start selling on Oct. 1.
Compensation for plans sold through the marketplace will vary depending on your state. In most states, you will be paid for the plans you sell directly by the carrier. However, in some states, like Oregon and Utah, you will be paid through the marketplace or an outside vendor.
To find out how your state will be compensating agents, visit your state’s marketplace website and search for a broker/agent section.