When the Idaho health insurance marketplace, Your Health Idaho, goes live on October 1, the state will be looking at two primary aspects that will decide the health and performance of the exchange in the years to come – Idaho insurance agents and the number of enrollments on the exchange. Although these two aspects are closely related, insurance agents takes precedence.
While insurance agents and brokers have been working in Idaho for a long time, a large number have concerns on the changes that the Affordable Care Act will bring. Some of those factors are:
• The commissions and incentives insurance agents received in the past will decrease substantially once Your Health Idaho goes live. For instance, Regence BlueShield of Idaho is going to decrease the plan commission from $12 to $9.
• Insurance agents feel that their jobs and margins are going to be impacted by the exchange navigators being trained by the government to help people buy insurance off of the marketplace. Navigators are going to play an impartial role and help people choose and purchase plans on the exchange.
• Agents are also concerned that the marketplace won’t draw enough enrollments. If the number of people enrolling is not substantial and if most people feel that the penalty for first year is lesser than what they have to pay, there will be fewer enrollments, which will reduce commissions even further.
However, not all insurance agents share the above concerns. Some believe these changes present an unprecedented opportunity to cement their place in the insurance market. Top players believe the health reforms are going to give agents and brokers a multitude of new opportunities to be a guide for consumers buying insurance. Since the navigators won’t be operation for a good part of the coming year, agents won’t face any real competition from the role. Even when the navigators come into the picture, they won’t be allowed to make recommendations as they are mandated to be impartial in their guidance, thereby giving agents and brokers an edge over navigators.
Overall, the landscape will be full of opportunities for insurance agents and brokers; they just need to figure out the right strategy to tap all that potential. As agents succeed in increasing the enrollments, the Idaho health insurance marketplace will fulfill the aim behind its establishment.