The state based health insurance Exchange is an attempt to bring the consumers a step closer to health insurance companies. However, that does not mean that the role of middlemen such as agents and brokers will be completely eliminated post 2014.
A large number of residents still believe in the authenticity of a face to face interaction with a broker (We offer Broker Solution for New York and some other states) than purchasing medical policies from a automated web portal. They prefer to seek insurance advice from their agents than checking out the health plan comparison tools available on the internet. Business firms still depend on health insurance agents to get them the best deals on group coverage. The agents help them with recommendations, keep track of plans and renewals and represent the firm while dealing with health insurance companies.
Without involvement of agents, Exchanges would not be able to serve its customers properly. Hence, agents and brokers, instead of getting antagonized with the insurance exchange and seeing it as a competitor, should in fact make the maximum use of its advantages to serve their customers better…
Here is a look at how brokers can use these state based Exchanges as an effective tool in furthering their business.
1. The Exchange will be a storehouse of all insurance related information. Brokers can supplement their experience with the available information to make their customers more conversant with health insurance.
2. All Exchanges will have a dedicated 24*7 call centers. Navigators or licensed insurance agents can use this as a resource to quickly get healthcare insurance options and information for their clients.
3. Agents can check out the small business insurance coverage options available on the Exchange and can use their expertise to decide group plans for the firms that they are representing.
4. Submitting e-apps will help them get coverage for their clients faster.
5. The Exchange will serve as an electronic database that will make it easier and more convenient for the agents to manage all their clients simultaneously.
Though the Exchanges are a convenient way to purchase policies, it cannot replace the long standing relationship that an agent and his client share. Residents find it easier to trust their health and finances with a person they know and can interact with.
Therefore, brokers should put away their fears of being forced out of business and should rather see the Exchange as a platform that facilitates their business. Exchange will prove to be competition for sure, but if agents can find a way to leverage them, these state based insurance exchanges could very well prove to be a boon for the brokers and agents.