As the enrollment season opens, brokers take on bigger role

The Affordable Care Act’s second annual open enrollment period started today, but the big news this past week was the administration’s relatively low expectations. After a better-than-expected initial enrollment period last year, the Obama administration lowered its estimates for this year’s three-month sign-up period. Some have guessed that the President and HHS want to make sure they exceed expectations, but others see it as another sign that the law isn’t going as planned and that the government did not, in fact, build a better mousetrap.

One of the other goals of Healthcare.gov and the state-based exchanges was to have a “Travelocity-type site” where people could shop for and purchase health coverage on their own, without the assistance of insurance agents. The government is now realizing that that was also unrealistic. Several recent articles have focused on the bigger role that brokers will play this year.

USA Today, for instance, reports on the coverage options around the country and quotes several agents who are doing their best to advise clients. And in Washington state, according to the Seattle Times, government officials are reaching to agents for assistance in hitting this year’s lofty enrollment goals. Brokers are being trained to work alongside in-person assisters to get individuals signed up for coverage.

The brokers who are in the best position to do well this enrollment season, though, are those with a team of people who can help. Hundreds of agents have partnered with Health Partners America to set up a private exchange website and gain access to a call center staffed with licensed agents who can help people enroll. This lets brokers spend their time marketing and gives clients the one-on-one assistance from licensed professionals that they clearly need.

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