Last updated on: 6/3/2015 4:24:12 PM PST
Has Obamacare Led to Fewer Health Insurance Agents? - DEBATED
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation stated the following in its June 1, 2012 publication "Survey of Health Insurance Agents: Assessing Trends in the Individual and Small Group Insurance Markets," available at kff.org:
"The role health insurance agents play may also change under reform, due in part to requirements that insurers reduce administrative expenses. Under the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) provision of the ACA, most insurers must spend at least 80 percent of their premium income on medical care and quality improvement activities, leaving 20 percent or less for administrative costs, marketing, and profits. As agent compensation is considered an administrative expense under the law, insurers may have an incentive to reduce their compensation to or reliance on agents...
The Affordable Care Act's potential impact on the role of agents in the health insurance marketplace and on their commissions has stirred controversy about the law, so it may not be a surprise that many agents do not like it. In contrast to the public at large who are fairly evenly split in their views of the law, health insurance agents overwhelmingly oppose it, with over half (54 percent) saying they have a very unfavorable view and an additional 19 percent with a somewhat unfavorable view. In contrast, one in five agents (20 percent) have a favorable view of the law...
This negative view of the law may be reflective of the fact that agents do not think the law will benefit them. Between six in ten and three quarters of agents think the country, their families, their business, and brokers more generally will be worse off under the ACA...
Perhaps reflecting uncertainty among agents about the impact of the ACA on their business, many agents who arrange insurance in the individual market are pessimistic about how the law will affect the amount of business they do. Almost half of agents (46 percent) say they expect to sell fewer individual insurance policies in 2014."
Nigam Arora, MBA, contributor at Forbes, stated the following in his June 29, 2012 article "Insurance Agents Lose Job Security with Obamacare Ruling," available at forbes.com:
"Much has been discussed in the media about most of the aspects of the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, or 'Obamacare.' I have not seen much about the plight of more than 100,000 insurance agents and brokers.
The floodgates are about to open for the mass firing of healthcare insurance agents...
Obviously, financial constraints are such that health insurance companies are being forced to develop new products that are suitable for the 30 million uninsured Americans who will soon be insured under the law. There will be no room for commissions in the new lower cost products...
There will be a huge migration of business from traditional healthcare insurance agents and brokers to the exchanges...
With regard to health insurance the argument for procurement through agents is very weak. Some consumers may continue to use agents simply because they are creatures of habits.
Make no mistake: the volume of business underwritten by agents will dramatically drop."
Robert Miller, MS, MA, President of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, wrote in his Jan. 11, 2012 article "Obama's Health-Care Law Is Hurting Insurance Agents and Millions of Consumers," available at the Christian Science Monitor website:
"If you've never heard of the law's medical loss ratio (MLR) provision, you're certainly not alone. This simple calculation has had the effect of radically reducing what health insurance agents earn. That, in turn as greatly restricted their ability to help million of Americans navigate the maze of approvals needed for medical procedures and processing claims. It has also had a devastating effect on these agents' businesses and is disrupting the insurance market.
As agents deal with the consequences of the MLR, many are finding that the cost of servicing clients now exceeds their income. They are cutting back on services to customers and laying off support staff. Some are leaving the health insurance business altogether."
Chad Terhune, health care reporter for the Los Angeles Times, stated the following in his May 10, 2014 article "Insurance Agents Played Key Role in California's Obamacare Enrollment," available at latimes.com:
"As enrollment neared under the Affordable Care Act, both President Obama and California officials boasted that signing up for health insurance would be as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.com or buying a plane ticket online.
With that in mind, Covered California's executive director, Peter Lee, predicted a bleak future for insurance agents selling individual policies, saying they could easily go the way of travel agents.
As it turns out, reports of their demise were greatly exaggerated. Insurance agents played a major role in California's larger-than-expected enrollment of 1.4 million people in private health plans.
They personally signed up 525,000 Californians — nearly 40% of the state's total, new data show. About the same number signed up on their own using the Covered California website."
Vivian Giang, MA, contributor at Business Insider, stated the following in her Oct. 23, 2013 article "Is Health Insurance Broker the Next Hot Job in America?," available at the Business Insider website:
"The Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, has made shopping for insurance policies a confusing task for many Americans...
This is exactly why health insurance brokers, who research and sort out policies for their clients, are more in-demand than ever...
The demand for brokers has increased since the U.S. government gave online brokers permission in July to enroll clients in subsidized plans offered through the federal and state health-care exchange. In short, this means you can hire a broker to research plans offered directly from the insurance company or through the government exchange."