The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period officially starts on October 15, but you don’t have to wait until then to get a leg up on your sales! October 1 is when you can begin marketing the next year’s plans to your clients.

We’re here to tell you how to maximize those first two weeks before AEP begins. If your clients are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or a Part D plan, they should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and/or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their plan’s carrier. You should help your clients review these notices for any changes in their plan’s costs, benefits, and/or rules for the upcoming year.

After a thorough review, your client may choose to stay in their current plan, or enroll in a new one to avoid increased costs, a change in their network, or unwanted benefits changes. As a licensed sales agent, you have knowledge of both the plans and your clients’ needs, so begin meeting with them as early as October 1 to discuss next steps.

Recognize Change

As an MAPD insurance agent, you should already have a good understanding of plan offerings prior to the first of the month from the advance plan info you get from your FMO. Ritter Insurance Marketing sends their agents exclusive “First Look” emails that contain plan info for the coming year from the carriers that dominate your market.

With the help of your FMO, you’re responsible for assessing how much plans are changing, if there are drastic differences, and if you think it’s in your clients’ best interest to switch.

Before October 1 approaches, identify which clients may want to adjust their plans. Those are the clients you should prioritize meeting with during the first two weeks of October. You are permitted to leave enrollment forms with your clients or share the plan link on Medicareful.com, but you are not permitted to submit the application until after the start of AEP on October 15.

Before October 1 approaches, identify which clients may want to adjust their plans. Those are the clients you should prioritize meeting with during the first two weeks of October.

Listen to Your Clients

When you meet with your clients, you’re allowed to give a full product presentation and consultation. It’s important that you go over several potential plans with them to see what they think will best fit their needs. While pre-enrollment materials contain helpful information, they are plan-specific, meaning they can only cover one plan at a time. Get to know your clients so you can determine ahead of time what may be a good choice for them, but still lay out all the options.

For example, in some cases Medicare beneficiaries are willing to pay more for a plan that allows them to continue seeing their doctor. If the cost of their primary care provider increased due to changes in their current plan’s network, it’s a good idea to know what other plans have that doctor in-network so your client can pay lower rates.

Try to think of potential questions or concerns that may arise while you are presenting plan info to your clients.

Try to think of potential questions or concerns that may arise while you are presenting plan info to your clients. What is my deductible? How much are copays? How does this differ from my current plan? The more prepared you are, the smoother your meeting will go. Your clients will definitely appreciate your knowledge and effort!

Stay Compliant

As always, start by documenting a scope of appointment (SOA) prior to meeting with potential enrollees, including those already in your book since they may potentially switch plans. Every enrollment should have an SOA, especially any enrollment completed on Medicareful.com.

Prior to October 15, agents may not encourage completion of, solicit, or accept paper or telephonic enrollments. They also cannot encourage mailing, take possession of, or “just hold onto” any applications for the 2019 contract year.

Agents are allowed to leave enrollment applications with a beneficiary during the first two weeks of October, but there are a few stipulations that must be adhered to before AEP officially opens.

  • The enrollee must complete the application on their own, sign it with the current date, and mail it to the carrier using the envelope included in the sales kit. If for whatever reason they are unable to do so, you must come back to meet with them on or after October 15.

  • In the “For Agent Use Only” section of the application, only put your Agent ID number. You should not sign or date the application or mail the application on behalf of the beneficiary.

  • The carrier is obligated to investigate any application received before October 15 to determine if it was agent-assisted. Because of this, it is best for your clients to wait to enroll until the start of AEP.

If these rules are deviated from, the application may be rejected, resulting in a loss of commission for you. It is imperative you follow the guidelines so as to not cause an issue for you or your client.

From October 15 to the end of AEP on December 7, the process for filling out and filing applications is normal, and you may complete the entire “For Agent Use Only” section.

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AEP may not start until October 15, but there is still much to do before that date rolls around. Do your research and stay up to date with your sales market. An agent who is knowledgeable about plan offerings and goes above and beyond for their clients is sure to have a successful AEP!