Mandatory training for agents and brokers who want to sell on the federally facilitated marketplace —offered for the first time by non-government groups — is meeting expectations.

As of last week, 37,000 producers had completed the training, according to Farren M. Baer, the National Association of Health Underwriter’s senior vice president of education. That includes producers who took the training through NAHU, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS’ two other approved partners: America’s Health Insurance Plans and Gorman Health. An additional 10,000 producers are still processing, which means they have registered and are completing the training. Exact breakdowns for where each producer completed their training was not available.

In early August, CMS announced it had partnered with NAHU, AHIP and Gorman Health to allow those organizations to provide the training. By taking the courses through one of the vendors, brokers and agents are for the first time eligible to receive continuing education credits for the training, which can take hours to complete.

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AHIP has seen “high turnout and a great response rate from folks,” Clare Krusing, the group’s director of communications, says.

The number of producers who are on track to finish training for 2016 open enrollment is an increase from previous years, Baer says. “[Producers] are getting more engaged with the individual and SHOP market space and realize their place there,” she adds.

Questions

When producers contact NAHU’s training helpdesk, the majority of questions are not only about the training module, but also revolve around questions over navigating the front- and back-end user agreements agents have to sign and the final steps they need to take to be certified, Baer says.

“The majority of questions are …. ‘What do I need to do next? Am I finished?,’” she says. “There is an expectation of anyone going into a training program [that it is] a lot easier than they think. They like to assume when they are finished, because they’re not confident or understanding the number of steps.” The NAHU helpdesk, she adds, can save producers hours of work.

CMS, which did not respond to inquiries for this story, has been “tremendous to work with,” Baer adds. “It’s been a great joint effort, we have weekly touch base calls,” she explains. “[We] collaborate on a case-by-case [basis]. … Everyone has been very responsive.”

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It is part of CMS having a clearer understanding of a producer’s role, AHIP’s Krusing believes. “Everyone needs to be onboard and on the same page when it comes to open enrollment and how consumers access Healthcare.gov and the federal exchange,” she says. “That process needs to happen lockstep in order to benefit consumers and make sure they get coverage.”

When the partnerships were announced, CMS said that it made it clear that it intended to make the process of training and registering to sell on the marketplace easier for agents and brokers and to attract greater agent and broker participation through partnerships with third-party organizations.

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