The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is always a hectic time for agents, but AEP 2024 will be especially challenging to navigate. New Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) final rules have ramped up the complexity. This year additional planning will be vital for success.
Agents need new strategies to survive—let alone thrive—in the coming AEP. Let’s look at four things to consider to be the most prepared.
1. Protect your membership
You can expect a lot of changes in the drug benefit of both MAPD and PDP plans for 2024 because of the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act. This will include significant changes in premiums, deductibles and co-pays. Many of your customers will look to you to find a better-fit plan. Protect your home base by updating your members’ medications and Scopes of Appointment now so you can help them switch to a better-fit plan right away, without waiting for the 48 hours like your potential competitors. Remember, keeping an existing client costs five times less than getting a new one.
2. Execute effective marketing
With your membership protected, focus on building your book of business. This means you need to get up to speed with the new branded ad rule. Make sure you are working with leads for which you are appointed. Only work with legitimate branded ads. Remember, not only does an ad or lead have to be associated with a carrier’s name, but you must also be appointed to complete the enrollment with the carrier.
3. Know the 48-hour rule
The 48-hour rule is constricting. But it does not apply to all situations. The 48-hour waiting period does not apply if the beneficiary calls or visits you directly or if it is within four days of the end of the enrollment period. All agent-initiated outbound calls to prospects require a 48-hour waiting period—even if you are returning a call.
Don’t be tempted to take chances.
CMS is enacting this rule for a reason, and they will be stern in enforcing it. As you prepare for AEP 2024, become an expert on the 48-hour rule. Know when it applies and what is expected of you.
4. Master call recording
Per CMS guidelines, all marketing and enrollment calls must be recorded and will now be assessed for compliance. This means you need to be thoughtful about how you manage call recording. Find a call recording system that you can easily master and one that allows you to download and listen to your calls. It is crucial to self-monitor and self-train for compliance risks. The CMS has guaranteed they will be listening this year.
The Hard Work Happens Now.
The new CMS final rules present fresh challenges for agents. But, if you do the work now to prepare for AEP 2024, you can ensure compliance and be poised to make the greatest impact for your Medicare beneficiaries.
This article was first published in Aspire Magazine.