Fewer companies are helping HealthCare.gov managers pipe access to the system's services out to insurance agents, insurance brokers, employers and the public.
The number of organizations registered to service as HealthCare.gov "web broker entities" fell to 47 on Nov. 14.
That was down from 57 web broker entity relationships on Sept. 15.
The HealthCare.gov reported its peak web broker entity relationship count, 82, in March.
Drafters of the Affordable Care Act created a health insurance public exchange system or web-based sales system, to try to give consumers easy access to health plans and health plan subsidies. ACA drafters also hoped to lower the overall cost of commercial health coverage, by using the exchange system and exchange subsidies to increase the number of young, healthy people with health coverage, and to cut the average ratio of claims to plan revenue.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set up HealthCare.gov to serve as an exchange enrollment and account administration system for people in states that are unwilling or unable to handle those jobs.
Some web broker entities use their connections to HealthCare.gov mainly to sell coverage directly to employers or individuals. Others share their pipes with agents and brokers. The entities best known for sharing their pipes with producers, such as San Francisco-based HealthSherpa and Irving, Texas-based ACA Express Inc., are still listed as web broker entities.
The ACA individual major medical open enrollment period for 2017 coverage started Nov. 1 and is set to end Jan. 31.
Before Election Day, HealthCare.gov efforts to get retail agents and brokers certified as exchange plan agents seemed to be holding reasonably steady. On Nov. 8, the number of certified individual exchange agents stood at 61,263, down just 10 percent from the total on Nov. 8, 2015, according to the agent registration list system.
For the period from Nov. 9 through Nov. 28, the HealthCare.gov agent registration rate appears to be much lower than it was during the comparable period in 2015.
HealthCare.gov managers reported certifying 2,428 exchange agents for 2017 from Nov. 9 through Nov. 28. That was about 60 percent lower than the number of exchange agents the program certified for 2016 from Nov. 8, 2015, through Nov. 28, 2015.
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