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Insurance Brokers Benefit From Obamacare Confusion

by Hugh McQuaid | Oct 31, 2013 1:19pm
(0) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Health Care

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Tim Tracy

Consumer confusion over the Affordable Care Act and its rocky implementation have Connecticut insurance brokers expecting more business in the coming weeks.

The Connecticut Benefit Brokers held a press conference Thursday in the Legislative Office Building to unveil a new advertising campaign that targets businesses and individuals seeking help adapting to the implementation of the health care law.

“With the insurance reform, I just couldn’t imagine doing insurance and working without a broker,” says the Bushnell’s Human Resource Director Dawn Peterson Jones during one of three 30-second ads. “. . . a licensed broker streamlines and makes the process very manageable.”

The ads are running on television and radio stations throughout Connecticut and were paid for by a $60,000 investment by the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters and its parent organization.

Tim Tracy, president of the Connecticut chapter, said that the rollout of the state’s health care exchange website has been “head-and-shoulders” above its federal counterpart.

But the enrollment process still has been challenging and has highlighted the role of insurance brokers.

Speaking for his company, Tracy said he has seen an influx of interest in, and confusion about, buying health insurance.

“I think people are still waiting to hear more, learn more, see if any changes are coming. But I would anticipate that over the next few weeks — 30 to 60 days — we will see an increase in business due to the changes coming,” he said.

Some of the new business will stem from residents whose existing health insurance plans have been cancelled because they do not comply with the requirements of the new law.

“I know everybody’s seen a number of policies in Connecticut are actually being terminated, so we have an influx of calls coming in regarding that, taking people whose plans are terminated and moving them onto new coverage, new plans,” Tracy said.

Brokers are encountering “two different buckets” of clients, Tracy said: those who are pleased because they have qualified for subsidy benefits and those who are paying more.

“We’re seeing individuals and clients that are actually very excited because they’ve fallen into that subsidy range and they’re finding more affordable plans and better coverage and I’ve also seen the opposite side, clients that fall outside the subsidy range, whose plans are increasing in price, their deductibles are increasing,” he said.

However, he said less than 10 percent of Connecticut residents are expected to qualify for the subsidies.

Paul Smith, a former president of the Connecticut Benefit Brokers, said it is a “no-brainer” for consumers to seek the assistance of an insurance broker because the help will not result in a higher premium cost.

Smith said the new law has led to unprecedented changes in the state’s insurance marketplace.

“I’ve been in business for 40 years. I’ve seen a lot of change, but the unbelievable change that is happening today for folks is the way they’re going to be able to consume their health insurance. It’s just totally different. It looks a lot different. Different deductibles, different co-pays, everything’s just a whole different look. That’s the tough part that people are going to need help with,” he said.

Smith said the brokers who are going to benefit from the new business will be the ones who have educated themselves on the new insurance landscape and can offer help to their clients.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation, but those brokers who are on top of it, who can provide value, will grow their business,” he said.

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