Follow-up on yesterday’s post about web brokers

Boy, we stirred up a hornet’s nest. Yesterday, we wrote a blog post about a CNBC article from the day before that said web brokers were being “blocked” from and “locked out” of the state and federal exchanges.

In our post, we mentioned that the CNBC article was the lead story in the NAHU Newswire yesterday, and that the Newswire made it worse with a misleading headline. Apparently NAHU received a number of phone calls after brokers read our story, so we wanted to give them a chance to respond. At HPA, we’re huge fans of and very grateful to the National Association of Health Underwriters, their staff, and their amazing leadership, who are all fighting to make sure consumers continue to have access to the services of an insurance broker.

Here’s what NAHU had to say:

“There is a lot of media coverage produced every day on health care reform and our industry.  The NAHU Newswire is simply a daily email consisting of a compilation of industry stories from all publications.  It is intended as a tool for all members to stay up-to-date on what is in the media daily.  The content of the stories comes directly from the reporting of various media outlets and does not necessarily represent the view of the association.

As for the specific issue of agents accessing health insurance exchanges via web-based brokers, NAHU is committed to ensuring that all types of health insurance agents and brokers can service the needs of their clients in the new exchange marketplaces, including through web-based entities.”

Josh Hilgers, president of Health Partners America, added to NAHU’s statement:

“HPA appreciates the resources provided by NAHU to keep their members up to date with the latest information and media stories about health reform. We want to be clear that the story referenced in this blog post was written by CNBC, NOT NAHU. It was simply reported in the daily newswire.”

A Personal Note

At HPA, we have a “what we’re reading” section on our resources page. The truth is, for the past three years, the first thing I’ve read every morning – usually before I can even focus completely – has been the NAHU Newswire. It’s an amazing resource that helps agents nationwide learn what’s happening as it’s happening. In my opinion, it alone is worth the price of membership.

NAHU doesn’t write the Newswire – they outsource it to BulletinHealthcare, which provides “succinct eNewsBriefings” to professional and trade associations. Usually, the information is excellent. Yesterday, I think the title of their briefing added to the confusion. But there’s a ton of information out there and this is such a moving target that this is bound to happen – I would still highly recommend NAHU and the NAHU Newswire service to any broker who wants to stay in the business. (Learn more here.)

As for the CNBC article, I still believe it reports on a problem that doesn’t exist in most states – and probably won’t. At the very least, it’s extremely premature. HHS has said it will work with web brokers, and they’ve given us no reason to believe otherwise, so until we hear differently we should probably quit complaining and give them a chance to deliver on their promise.

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