Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Navigator Funding and Agent Commissions

Obamacare supporters and Democrats in congress are outraged to learn that President Trump is cutting funding for an arm of Obamacare's outreach known as "Navigators". These unlicensed individuals who don't have professional liability insurance have been responsible for enrolling 81,426 people into Obamacare policies since 2014. They have also played a role in educating the public through various activities.

Since the rollout of, Navigators have received funding of:  $67 million for 2014, $60 million for 2015, $67 million for 2016, and $63 million for 2017. That's a cool grand total of $257,000,000. Breaking this number down it works out to a per enrolled person per month fee of $65.75.

With Trump cutting their funding to $36 million for 2018 many of these programs are being forced to reduce workforce and find alternative ways to perform outreach and enrollment. 

Meanwhile, professional health insurance agents are licensed, carry liability insurance, and annually certify to sell Obamacare policies. We also play a vital role in educating the public through various activities. In 2014 agents enrolled over 500,000 people in California alone.

Unlike navigators, insurance agents can ask people specific questions about their health, budget, and then recommend a specific plan or insurer. There are so many variables for consumers to review before making an informed decision. That's why agents have a discussion on provider networks, deductibles, copays, drug costs and other insurance provisions long before talking about premiums.

Since the rollout of agents have seen our commissions cut - and in some cases - eliminated. Even when we are paid it's not even close to what navigators have received. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation back in 2013 the average commission agents received on a per person per month basis was $12.24.

There was no outrage when our "funding" was cut. There was no media coverage showing support for licensed professionals.

Yet many of us persevere. We do so because we know how vital we are to the clients we serve. We do so because we know the value of the product we sell and the service we provide. We are the conduit between insurance companies, providers, and our client.

There are so many things that Navigators can't do. But professional insurance agents, we do it - and at a fraction of the cost.

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