Occasionally, I am asked whether I am an insurance agent or a broker. The underlying premise of the question is that the person does not want their insurance options limited to only those insurance companies the agent represents. The assumption is that a broker will not steer the client into an insurance policy that he or she receives the highest commission for. For the purposes of this discussion involving health insurance, there are no brokers, we are all agents. But not all agents are equal when it comes to the health plans they represent.
Health Insurance Agents Brokers
Posts related to health insurance agents in California working with Covered California, small groups, and the different health plans. Also known as brokers.
I share Covered California’s concern that health care sharing ministry programs are a mine field waiting for someone running from ridiculously high health insurance premiums to step on and have the bomb explode. However, I disagree with Covered California’s proposed use of certified agents to be their foil to limit the enrollment in these products. Agents are not the jailers charged with keeping the citizens within the health insurance pool.
So when an intelligent person calls me and wants my assistance with an insurance transaction that will benefit them greatly at the expense of all my other clients who faithfully make their premium payments every month, with no claims for years, I get an uneasy twinge in my gut. I am not a cheerleader for the health insurance companies. But at the same time I see no reason for me to facilitate an enrollment that will only add additional costs to the system when that client jumps out of the pool.
When I looked at the submitted application – there it was – I had to have selected the permanently moved to California QLE which is below loss of coverage. The permanent move to California QLE triggers the standard effective date of the 1st of the following month, in this case August 1st. So the family really did not have insurance for July!
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.