Insurance agent and broker groups are hoping the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will find a way to include their members when it launches a consumer Web portal July 1.

The groups have sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius telling her that their 500,000 members “are committed to ensuring that health reform is a sustainable achievement that will improve insurance coverage.”

The groups are the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, Washington; the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Alexandria, Va.; the National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, Va.; and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va.

HHS wants to set up a Web portal to help consumers understand the effects of the new Affordable Care Act and related laws and regulations.

“Even with reliable information, many individuals and business owners will seek personal assistance with the insurance-buying process,” producer groups write in the letter.

To protect consumers from unscrupulous sales practices, the Web portal should include information about how to avoid scams and get professional assistance, the groups write.

Producers can help consumers with compliance as well as with understanding coverage options and cutting costs, the groups write.

“Detailed information on the high-level of personal service, policy knowledge and accountability that distinguishes the licensed agent, broker and consultant should be included,” the groups write. “Local agents and brokers are familiar with insurance companies that do business in a given state. They also carry errors and omissions insurance and have a professional liability to adequately answer all insurance-related questions posed to them by their clients.”

For more information, see H.R. 3590 And H.R. 4872: A National Underwriter Guide To A New Health Reform World.