Wednesday, April 22, 2015

News from Ms Burntwell

Actually, there are quite a few ObamaTax-related items cluttering the in-box. In no particular order:

■ A dataset which purports to provide "the total number of Qualified Health Plan selections by ZIP Code for the 37 states that use the [] platform." It includes basic plan info about which plans folks in a given area selected during Open Enrollment. It's not clear how many (if any) of these folks actually bought a plan at all.

■ A handy little (one page!) .pdf letting us proles know how much HHS collected from reinsurers in 2014 to offset costs of the Transitional Reinsurance program. Spoiler alert: thus far, less than 75% of target.

■ The death of the insurance agent's role has been more than a little exaggerated. Case in point:

"The drafters of the [ObamaTax] seemed to think that brokers were mostly a waste of money ... For a look at how the new, humbled SHOP exchange system has done since then, read on."

Please do.

The reality is that (competent, professional) agents do far more than just suggest plans designs. They are an integral conduit between the client (individual or employer) and the carrier. Of course, that sales role can't really be underplayed, as witness the fate of the SHOP (Small group insurance exchange):

"HHS has been notoriously reluctant to release any numbers hinting at how many employers or workers might be using SHOP plans"

Any bets on whether that would hold true were it a rousing success?

Thought not.

Now, I happen to be one of those (competent, professional) agents who is authorized to sell SHOP plans. I can tell you that I have yet to experience any employer asking me for a SHOP quote (neither current clients nor prospects). I have suggested to a few current clients that we at least look into it, but when they learn what's involved, well, any interest seems to fade away quickly.

It may be the cumbersome (but intrusive!) data entry process, it may be the confusing requirements, or some combination of these and other factors. But it's certainly not surprising.
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