10 Tips to Submitting an Error-Free Application

Any time an application gets flagged during the submission process, it’s a delay on your clients’ coverage and your commission. What if we told you we can help you avoid stalled applications?

Throughout the year, Ritter Insurance Marketing processes thousands of enrollment applications for agents. To help you ensure your submissions pass through the system cleanly, we worked with Ritter’s New Business team to put together some tips for completing flawless applications.

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Move Online

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we’d like to mention an overarching suggestion — move your applications online. Paper applications grow more obsolete as carriers perfect their online forms, FMOs (like us!) create useful tools, and more and more people over 65 use the internet. In fact, about 53 percent of adults apply for Social Security online, which has increased roughly 10 to 12 percent over the last 10 years.

We feel so enthusiastic about moving applications online, we suggest how to do so at the end of each tip!

Hint: Ritter’s tools make it easier.

1. Prepare Thoroughly

Before you begin an application, make sure you have all the necessary client details gathered, like full name, date of birth, and Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), all in one place. If you must navigate away from an online application or get up and grab something you forgot, you increase the risk of losing your spot or making a mistake.

Prepare Online with Ritter’s Platform

Put in place good processes for collecting the necessary data for an application, like utilizing a good customer relationship management (CRM) system. Ritter’s online Platform makes it easy to store and access client information, which you can then use to quickly email or text FastTrack prefilled MAPD or PDP applications to your clients for a digital signature.

2. Write Neatly and Legibly

If you’re completing a paper app, use a pen with blue or black ink and do your best to keep your handwriting easy to read. If there’s any room for interpretation, Ritter or the carrier will end up circling back to confirm what’s meant, which delays the process.

If you can’t read the application, it’s likely we can’t either. It never hurts to review the application with the client to ensure its accuracy before moving it through the submission process.

Keep It Neat Online

It may be silly to state the obvious, but if you submit online applications, no one has to worry about reading your handwriting!

3. Keep in Compliance with SOA Rules

CMS’ rules on Scopes of Appointment (SOAs) dictate that agents must complete an SOA 48 hours before making an appointment with a beneficiary. Exceptions to this rule include when a beneficiary is four days or less from the end of a valid enrollment period (e.g., Annual Enrollment Period, Open Enrollment Period, Special Enrollment Period, Initial Coverage Election Period) or unscheduled in-person meetings (walk-ins) initiated by the beneficiary.

The SOA is also only valid for 12 months, and you will need to get a new one if the original expired. We recommend tracking the start and stop date within your CRM.

Please note, you cannot complete SOAs for AEP before October 1.

On the SOA itself, make sure that at least one of the selected types of contracts to be discussed on the SOA matches the plan that’s chosen on the application. Additionally, make sure that each field is filled out in its entirety and is legible, if you’re filling out a paper SOA. If during your meeting, you and the client decide you’d like to discuss additional plan types, simply fill out another SOA.

The SOA is a good point of reference for agents to easily access clients’ contact information in the future. Even if certain fields are “optional” on the SOA, it’s likely in your best interest to make sure everything is filled out anyways!

SOAs must be kept on file for 10 years per CMS rules, regardless of if a sale occurred or not. Keep in mind, even as CMS rules change, some carriers may maintain their current policies. You’re still responsible for following the procedures of the carriers you represent.

Even if certain fields are “optional” on the SOA, it’s likely in your best interest to make sure everything is filled out anyways!

Collect SOAs Online with Shop & Enroll

Using our simple CMS-compliant platform, Shop & Enroll, means you can collect and store SOAs digitally. When you register for Shop & Enroll, you’ll receive a free website branded with your information where clients can fill out eScopes, browse plans, and even enroll in Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plans. You can also send eScopes to clients for a signature via email or text. Shop & Enroll works in tandem with the Ritter Platform, so any signed eScopes will be stored under the eScopes tab in your client’s profile.

4. Provide Details Where Required

If an applicant answers “yes” to any health question that requires additional information, be sure it’s provided on the application. Additionally, if the SEP requires any extra information (e.g., a chosen PCP, Medicaid, PDP, or Extra Help info), it must also be on the application.

Store Details in Your Client’s Profile

On top of basic information, you can store a myriad of client details in the Ritter Platform — conditions, providers, preferred pharmacies, and prescriptions. For additional information, like whether your client qualifies for Extra Help, use the Platform’s Notes feature by clicking on the Note icon in the upper-left corner or the Attachments feature by navigating to the Attachments tab.

You can upload attachments directly from your computer, if you’ve recorded the information digitally, or scan paper forms into your computer, if you’ve handwritten the information, and then upload. If you don’t have a scanner, try using an app on your phone like Adobe Scan or Microsoft Lens, which turns pictures from your phone into PDFs. Then you can email or airdrop the PDF to yourself, save it on your computer, and upload to the Platform. You can see the journey from handwritten form to digital version is quite bothersome, so that’s why we recommend starting with a computer from the get-go. Record your client’s information directly into Ritter’s Platform and cut out the middle steps!

When you go to fill out an application, you’ll have all the details you need stored in one place — your client’s profile on the Platform!

Cut down even more steps when you utilize Shop & Enroll’s prefilled FastTrack application feature, which you can use even for those without a Shared Client Record. All you need to do is select your client and a quoted plan through the Clients tab in the Platform and send the application link their way. They’ll open and complete the application with their date of birth, last name, and Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) — it really is as simple as that!

5. Select a PCP When Necessary

If an applicant would like a carrier to auto-assign a primary care physician (PCP), be sure to note that in the appropriate field. Some plans require a PCP selection, so leaving this field blank could hold up an application’s approval.

Typically, applications for HMO plans require the applicant to specify an in-network PCP. Check to make sure an in-network PCP is on any application for an HMO plan to prevent roadblocks in the enrollment process.

As with most application information, it’s always better to have more information rather than not enough. Therefore, if your client can list a PCP, request they do so regardless of the requirement.

Copy & Paste from the Platform

As mentioned above, Ritter’s Platform organizes all your client’s information and prefills much of the client’s information into a FastTrack app. But not everything will prefill, like the PCP, so don’t forget the power of copy and paste. Pull up one web browser window with your client’s profile. Pull up another with the application. Now you can easily copy information, like the PCP and more, from your client’s file into the application without having to retype everything (and without increasing the chances of mistakes).

To start, highlight the PCP by clicking at the start of their name and dragging your mouse to the end of it. Next, either use the shortcut ctrl + c on your keyboard to copy or right-click on your mouse and select Copy. Then, click where you need to paste the PCP and either use the shortcut ctrl + v to paste or right click with your mouse and select Paste. Alternatively, leave it blank and request that the client fill in this information after you send the prefilled app.

6. Match the Attestation with the Election Period

The selected period in the attestation of eligibility section needs to align with the selection of IEP, AEP, or SEP in the agent/office use section of the application.

If the election period requires a date (such as the date a client is losing coverage), make sure it’s present and accurate. Additionally, if the SEP requires any extra information such as Medicaid, PDP, or Extra Help info it must be on the application.

If the SEP requires any extra information such as Medicaid, PDP, or Extra Help info it must be on the application

If you need clarification for which period to select, you can ask your Ritter sales specialist.

Validated Election Periods

We’ve created a failsafe so you can’t move forward in an online application until the attestation of eligibility matches the election period. When enrolling clients using Shop & Enroll, if you select I have a special circumstance and a type of CMS-approved SEP, then the site will validate the dates you enter. This simply means that the site will flag your application and not let you proceed until the dates you enter match the SEP you’ve selected.

7. Never Alter a Client’s Signature

Even though you may have the best of intentions, altering a client’s signature, or the associated date, on an application is strictly prohibited.

This rule extends to the SOA or any other documents that go with the application, and even your own signature or date as the agent. It’s always better to start a new application with your client or to apply late than to forge and falsify a legal document.

Even though you may have the best of intentions, altering a client’s signature, or the associated date, on an application is strictly prohibited.

Digital Signatures

Emailing or texting a prefilled FastTrack application to a client provides a safeguard against signature alteration. The client controls when the application is signed, and nobody can alter it after the client signs — the app is automatically submitted to Ritter for processing with the carrier.

8. Make Sure the Application Is Complete

Every part of the application is important to us, the carrier, and your client, so it’s vital you make sure the application is complete. Check and double-check to make sure you’ve finished the application before submitting.

Shop & Enroll Flags Omissions

As a Ritter agent, you can reduce your chances of missing information by using Shop & Enroll for MA and PDP enrollments. The site automatically flags errors on the application!

Our New Business department is also on standby to answer any questions you have about the process and provide quality analysis once we have the application for any carriers we process. We make sure each application is complete before sending it on to the carrier.

9. Submit the Application on Time

Once you’ve taken the time to review the application, be sure to submit it with the appropriate cover sheet, and any other required documents, within the specified time-period.

Applications must be submitted to Ritter within 24 hours, so that they can arrive at the carrier no later than 48 hours from the agent’s signature date. If you’re late, you risk being penalized by the carrier. Plus, why hold things up? A delayed enrollment is a delayed commission.

Assign Yourself Tasks on the Platform

When you begin an application through Shop & Enroll, you have the option to save and exit the app. You can then access any incomplete apps from the Submissions tab. Signing the app will always be the last step. Once your client digitally signs the app, either in -person during an appointment or virtually via email or text, and pushes submit, the app immediately goes to our New Biz department for review, so you don’t have to worry about that 24-hour time period that plagues paper apps.

Letting incomplete apps sit in your Submissions tab isn’t a great idea though, so we recommend finishing an application in one sitting to submit directly to Ritter (if your client is with you) or to send off to your client for review and signature (if your client isn’t with you).

If you do have to save and exit the app for whatever reason, assign yourself a task in the Platform reminding you to come back and complete it. Click the Bell icon in the upper- left corner of a client’s profile to assign yourself a task. Another tip? Set a reminder on your phone, too!

10. When in Doubt, Call for Help

Your business is serving your clients, and our business is serving you. If you have any questions about submitting an application, don’t hesitate to call Ritter for assistance.

Submit a Request Online

Besides calling us for help, you can always submit a question or request by clicking the Ticket icon in the upper right-hand corner of the Platform’s agent dashboard.

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Tired of completing SOAs and enrollment applications by hand? Shop & Enroll, powered by Ritter Insurance Marketing, offers compliant eScopes, FastTrack prefilled applications, and online enrollment options for more than 30 major carriers. Register today for your free site!

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