Insurance Broker Blog

Understanding the Healthcare Exchange and How to Sell to Groups

The federal health insurance marketplace presents untapped sales opportunities when it comes to employee groups. Insurance brokers can reach a new set of prospective clients by selling on the marketplace. Individuals and employers use the marketplace to find insurance that offers flexibility in cost and coverage. The marketplace hosts a mix of private and government insurance options. You can be there as people search during open enrollment and make yourself stand out with your unique broker services.

Key takeaways:

  • You can use the healthcare marketplace to sell group dental insurance and get started in 5 simple steps   
  • For small businesses and people without insurance, the healthcare exchange is a valuable resource
  • People can use the marketplace to comparison shop for insurance plans
  • The marketplace sees competitive commissions for agents and brokers

Read on to find out about the healthcare exchange, the advantages it provides your clients, and how you can equip yourself to sell marketplace insurance plans.


What is the healthcare exchange?
The U.S. healthcare exchange is a comparison-shopping website for finding health and dental insurance. Otherwise known as the health insurance marketplace, it was established as part of the Affordable Care Act. The exchange gives individuals and businesses the freedom to compare health insurance plans side-by-side and purchase the coverage that best fits their needs. The health exchange also helps promote the advantages of having health insurance coverage. 


Who uses the healthcare exchange?

Marketplace insurance is available to U.S. citizens and legally present residents who are not enrolled in Medicare. It is also a valuable resource for small businesses that want to offer their employees flexible, cost-effective health benefits.

The health insurance exchange is run on a state-by-state basis, with some states deferring regulation to the federal government. But no matter what state you live in, you have the option of selling marketplace insurance to your clients. Most people need to purchase their marketplace insurance during open enrollment. However, in certain cases, like a marriage or birth, people are eligible to sign up for coverage during a special enrollment period. 


The key benefits of the healthcare exchange

The healthcare exchange eliminates barriers like set costs and pre-determined coverage. All plans hosted on the health insurance marketplace are required to offer the same essential health benefits. These include doctor visits, preventive care, hospitalization, rehabilitation services and more. Other features that come with using the marketplace include: 

  • Exposure to a new set of clients - you can build up your profile
  • The enrollment process is simplified on the marketplace portal – completing applications, enrollments, renewals, and plan changes
  • Helping your clients find the best deal on insurance – businesses can also qualify for a tax credit for offering marketplace insurance

Understanding these key advantages of marketplace insurance will allow you to best
communicate the benefits to your clients. This education and experience will help you close on sales. There has been steady growth in the number of insurers who participate on the exchange. This means more competitive commissions for agents and brokers.


How to start selling marketplace insurance 

It takes 5 simple steps to get certified to sell insurance within the healthcare marketplace. You will be able to expand your service offerings. It also empowers you to promote the implementation of workplace wellness programs and expanded coverage for your clients. Below, you will find the step-by-step instructions on how to create an account and register for the proper training courses.


Step 1: Create an account:

You will go to the website for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at If you have an existing account that simply needs to be renewed, you can do so at the CMS Enterprise Portal. If you need to create a new account, you can go to this page.


For those who want to sell only small business group plans you will be using the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). You can learn how to register and sell SHOP plans here.


Step 2: Identify yourself as an agent or broker: Login to your new Enterprise Portal account and select "Request Access Now." Then select the “FFM/Training - Agents/Brokers/Assisters” tile and choose “FFM Agent Broker” from the dropdown menu.

Step 3: Confirm your identity:  Complete the basic information fields and stand by for “identity-proofing”. After you are identify-proofed, you will be sent to the CMS Enterprise Portal home page. Log out and wait a few minutes for the ‘agent/broker’ role to be assigned to your profile.


Step 4: Complete the required training: You can get free training from CMS or sign up for a paid course through a CMS-approved vendor. To complete the free training or a paid version, login to the CMS Enterprise Portal and select "Complete Agent Broker Training.” 

Select the ‘Access Training’ link next to ‘Marketplace Learning Management System (MLMS)’ or a CMS-approved vendor. Complete the required profile information and select ‘Save/Update.’ If you are taking training with a CMS-approved vendor, you will do this before signing the CMS Privacy and Security agreements. Select the appropriate curriculum (Individual Market or SHOP). Enroll in the curriculum and select ‘Complete Enrollment.’ 


Step 5: Sign the required paperwork: Once you have completed the training, go to ‘Current Learning’ to launch, and electronically sign the CMS Privacy and Security agreements. Select ‘Curriculum State’ and click the Actions link. Be sure to print your “Registration Completion Certificate” for your records. Then you will be certified to sell marketplace insurance plans!

Now that you are equipped to start selling marketplace health and dental insurance you can get out there and win over more clients. Find additional resources by visiting the Solstice Marketplace site today.


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