Thursday, March 28, 2013

Strange Bedfellows?

[Last week, Guest-Blogger Patrick Paule wrote about the potentially dangerous role untrained, unaccountable ObamaTax Navigators are slated to play in the Exchanges. This week, he's back with an update about efforts in the Ohio legislature to mitigate these problems. In fact, Patrick provided input on the bill in question. Although this concerns efforts in the Ohio legislature, the issues and problems are relevant in pretty much all 58 states. HGS]

Last week the LA Times ran an article on "enrollment assisters". The other day, Freedom Works ran a blog on navigators. The subjects of the articles will serve identical purposes and neither have received any significant news coverage. This is something consumers should be very concerned with. I find it ironic that a conservative group like FreedomWorks would agree with leaders of community organizations. Because based on the respective posts they both believe navigators shouldn't have to undergo the criteria below.

Breeanne Howe's post at FreedomWorks left me shaking my head. In the story Ms. Howe vilifies a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives and misrepresents the truth. Ms. Howe says that this member of the House has passed a bill which helps implement Obamacare. If she had done some better research she would have found that she is wrong on HB 3. While Ms. Howe is correct that HB 3 will regulate navigators, she misses the point as to why they should be regulated.

Throughout her article she summarizes the duties of what Navigators can and can't do. But she never mentions what HB 3 does in order to protect consumers from the things these (idiots) navigators say and do. Maybe if she would have read this (insert my prior post) and this (insert LA Times article) then she would have had a better understanding.

According to Ms. Howe insurance brokers across the country are "getting nervous about the prospect of competition" from navigators and that we have been lobbying for stricter standards on them. As an insurance broker I take exception to this comment.

I am not concerned about competition from someone who:
A. Doesn't have the ability to sell insurance.
B. Isn't licensed to do so.
C. Doesn't have ongoing education and training.
D. Doesn't have to undergo a background check or fingerprinting.
E. Doesn't have liability insurance in case of fraud or misrepresentation.
F. Has no basic understanding of health insurance products and the financial decisions people have to make to best suit their needs.
I am concerned with who is able to take me through the process of educating and purchasing insurance and doesn't have any of the above. According to the law, navigators can "facilitate enrollment in qualified health plans". In order to help with enrollment a navigator must have access to the consumers social security number, date of birth, annual income, tax returns, and other personal information. This is not the type of information I want to share with just anyone and why HB 3's passage is imperative.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with the basic principles of FreedomWorks. It's just too bad that an organization who wants this train-wreck repealed doesn't understand all of the reasons why it should be...

[Thanks, Patrick!]
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