I try to be pretty pragmatic when it comes to presidential elections. Regardless of the promises made by any candidate, we rarely see any real change in the U.S. with the election of a new president. However, Donald Trump ran on a platform to repeal and replace Obamacare. Since 90% of my income comes from enrollment generated by the Affordable Care Act, I am facing a drastic reduction of my income if Trump fulfills his promise.
Consumers should be cautious when a health insurance agent wants to bundle a bunch of other products such as life and accident insurance with the Covered California health plan. These agents and marketing organizations are more interested in selling higher commission products such as life, accident, cancer, stroke, heart attack, and dental plans than they are health insurance. They may try to convince a consumer to drop the health plan to a Bronze level so they can sell questionable indemnity plan products as extra protection for the higher deductible.
For the first time in my life I can commiserate with people who are losing their livelihood because of a government action. Just as some workers have been displaced because the government outlawed a product, changed an environmental regulation, or enacted a trade deal that smothered their industry, I too am on the receiving end of government legislation that will decimate my income. If Obamacare is repealed and the subsidies that make health insurance affordable for millions of Americans ceases, I will lose 90% of my clients.
With the constant erosion of the commission structures to agents for enrolling consumers into health plans in California, many agents have expressed their desire to stop assisting individuals and families with enrollment into Covered California health insurance. There has been renewed talk of allowing agents to charge a consultation fee to make up for the dwindling commissions they earn from the health plans and insurance companies. However, if agents want to make a decent return for enrolling consumers into health plans they need to provide the service so many of them advertise. We need to move from order-takers to consumer advocates, and we need fair compensation for our services.
For the second time since the launch of Obamacare and Covered California, Anthem Blue Cross has cut the commissions they will pay agents for assisting consumers with enrollment into individual and family plans. Anthem Blue Cross now has one of the lowest commission structures for agents helping individuals and families apply for health insurance in California. This commission cut, coupled with rules limiting Covered California delegated agents from receiving commissions, has resulted in agents thinking twice before assisting consumers with Anthem Blue Cross health plans.
Cigna notified their appointed health insurance agents at the end of September that they will not pay any commissions in California for individual and family plans. In other words, or symbols, Cigna has given the middle finger to agents who assist consumers with enrollment into their health plans.
A really nice tool for agents and consumers to compare health insurance plan rates is the Shop and Compare Tool. Within this website you can also download a proposal that lists the available health plans by metal tier level for the household information entered. Unfortunately, I recently found that the proposal created may not always match the website results shown.
Consumers receive letters from Covered California stating that their estimated income doesn’t match with their most recent federal tax return. This has led many consumers to assume that Covered California can actually view a taxpayer’s federal return. Covered California can’t see a consumer’s federal tax return unless they send it to them to verify their income.
Covered California is not very health insurance agent friendly when it comes to managing an agent’s book of business. Agents seem to be the last to know when Covered California or Medi-Cal makes changes to a client’s account and either strips their premium assistance or dumps them into Medi-Cal. Covered California has developed book of business and conditional eligibility reports for an agent’s clients enrolled in health plans through Covered California.
Thousands of people every week visit my blog posts explaining different aspects of health care reform from enrolling through Covered California, income requirements, and Medi-Cal eligibility questions. Many people leave comments or suggestions to help other readers of the posts. The Obamacare question and answer forum is supported, oddly enough, by my health insurance clients. These health insurance consumers are supporting a website viewed by thousands of people each week with questions about health insurance.