Brokers Face Many Challenges in New Healthcare Environment

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Broker Challenges

Insurance brokers’ jobs continue to change as the insurance industry adapts to its new and challenging environment. Health insurance agents, in particular are trying to navigate dwindling commissions and digital healthcare trends, while creating a top-of-line customer experience. There’s no such thing as the status quo anymore.

Decreased Commissions

Selective payment of commissions for qualified individual-market plans by insurers has put many agents in a tough spot. Brokers help consumers navigate coverage options and help advocate for them on the back-end during the claims process if necessary. However, due to mitigating factors insurers are paying less or have stopped paying for commissions, especially for platinum or gold plans.

As a result, according to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) there was nearly a 35% drop in the number of registered brokers on healthcare.gov from 2015-2017. Yet, historically brokers sign up at least 50% of marketplace enrollees. This may lead to a continued decline for enrollment from the exchanges.

Retail Customer Experience Needed

Trying to attract and retain new clients means agents selling health insurance are also in the midst of working their way through improvements and efficiencies brought about by updated technologies. This has required relearning how to do many aspects of their job in order to create the type of customer experience clients have come to expect from retailers.

Digital Healthcare Bandwagon

Adapting to change quickly is not something the insurance industry has typically been known for. However, the digital transformation has begun and it’s reshaping the market from top to bottom. Healthtech startups are everywhere using big data that can help brokers improve relationships with insurers and customers, while fostering more personalized interactions that have a better chance of lasting over the test of time.

It takes a big commitment from agents to forge ahead in this constantly changing environment. Added to all this is a change in Administration that looks to repeal and replace many aspects of the ACA, requiring embracing change on all sorts of levels.  Agent and broker associations are working to advocate for their membership and those that can foster innovation sooner rather than later will recognize and garner potential business to keep them successful in the years ahead.

Sources:  Best’s Review. Strength Training. April 2017. P. 11.

Modern Healthcare. As commissions on ACA plans vanish, some brokers stop selling them. April 10, 2017. P9.

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