They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. If that’s true, then Halbig v. Burwell, which should be decided soon, could draw some attention to the premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies currently being offered in the individual market.
As The Hill and other media outlets explain, this lawsuits challenges the federal government’s ability to distribute subsidies through the federal exchange, which a majority of states are using. The ACA says that subsidies are available through state-run exchanges, but most states decided not to develop their own marketplace, opting instead to go with the federally-facilitated model. While most legal experts believe the suit will fail, it certainly is a threat to a major provision in the law and a threat to most agents who specialize in individual insurance policies. So cross your fingers and let’s hope that this thing gets tossed out…
If the lawsuit does indeed fail, this could actually draw more attention to the subsidies. Nothing creates demand quite like telling people they can’t have something. It seemed nobody was interested in buying health insurance until the Healthcare.gov site didn’t work and people believed they couldn’t get it, so if the media reports that millions of Americans nearly lost their right to the generous government assistance, that, too, could create some interest. And when it does, people will once again be told that they can’t get it now – they’ll have to wait until November.
There’s an old sales technique that works quite well. When a prospect is having a difficult time making a buying decision, stop selling. Instead, say “maybe this product isn’t right for you,” pack up your bag, and start to leave. When the prospect sees that he’s about to lose his chance to buy your product, he’ll often sell himself on it. Maybe that’s the right approach with individual health insurance. Telling people that they may miss their opportunity to enroll or that they could miss out on some free government money could be the kick in the pants they need to finally take action.
Maybe it works with brokers too: if you don’t act now, you may lose your chance to take advantage of the biggest insurance opportunity of our lifetime.