If you want to get a fellow insurance agent going, ask him or her about health care reform.

“I am a capitalist! For all people, for all business, and want 90 percent of the government to exit our world.”

“Get something done, even if it is not perfect.”

“The companies need to restructure and not pay the upper echelon so much money and perks. The overhead is out of control. They are keeping the pricing higher than it needs to be for consumers. I paid $4,020 in premiums and had a $2,500 deductible and 80/20 copay. I had my well-care exams and a colonoscopy, which was not considered well care, so it had to be applied to my deductible. I paid $6,500 for my care including my premiums, deductible, and copay, and the insurance company paid $350 on my behalf for the year. There is something wrong with this picture!”

These comments all came from our 2010 Health Market Study, where we asked producers to offer their thoughts on the various iterations of legislation that have made their way through the House, the Senate, and the executive chief’s desk. Typically, “comment” sections garner between 25 and 50 responses on our studies. This time around, with nearly 650 agents taking the overall study, 166 took the time to comment on their views on health care reform.

“Until politicians can separate health care reform from health insurance reform, we will continue to spin around in a circle. On the insurance side, getting rid of pre-existing conditions limitations on all policies is important. Also, work on provider access and the entire financial setup of our current system … it’s broken!”

“Let the Republicans do it. The Democrats will screw it up.”

“I am European. Basic national health care does work regardless of the misinformed media reports we receive on a daily basis.”

According to the study, whose full results will be revealed in ASJ’s June 2010 print edition, 72 percent of agents favor health care reform – just not in its current form. The component with the most producer support is small-business tax credits (83 percent); the component with the least support is the much maligned public plan option (21 percent).

This weekend, the House is scheduled to vote on the reconciliation package offered by Democrats – and it’s been said that if nothing happens now, health care reform is likely to fall flat on its face. Again.

House Democrats need 216 votes in order to pass this bill. President Obama has postponed a trip to Asia to lobby for the bill. And producers hold their breath to see whether reform will quietly slip away.

“I like the way the system is set up here in Connecticut; however, I know for us to continue to have the volume of sales we currently generate in the future, something has to change to allow the rates to stay at an affordable number or we will see the market shrink and our commissions shrink along with the market!”
 
“Difficult to understand exactly where this issue is, and what ‘reforms’ are still in the bill. However, elimination of pre-existing conditions and premium moderation are of great importance.”

“There is definitely a problem with increasing costs every year that needs to be addressed. Litigation limits, state risk pools, Medicare and Medicaid fraud (these costs are always excluded when comparing to the costs of the Medicare Advantage plans). Address the true issues of the reasons people are uninsured – no smoke screens.”

Beyond the study, I’ve been speaking with producers about their personal views regarding the current reform bill. Some are vehemently against it, and use phrases such as “trash” and “useless.” Others are unapologetically on the side of something, anything – the best example of that is a producer with more than 40 years in the business. He describes himself as conservative, but says he’s really been ticking off his friends with his reform views of late – that any bill would be better than nothing.

But most producers fall somewhere in the middle. There are parts of the bill they favor. There are parts they oppose. One producer said a national exchange would be too dangerous for the producer population, rendering the current distribution system obsolete within five years. That same advisor added that individual mandates are a great idea – if you can get 100 percent of the population in the pool, adding the healthiest people to the mix to keep rates down. Otherwise, it would be a failure.

So what about you? Leading up to this Sunday’s scheduled vote, what are your thoughts on health care reform? And if you’re opposed to the current bill, what would your ideal health care reform bill look like?

Christina Pellett is the editor of the Agent’s Sales Journal.