In the short run, from the perspective of health insurance agents, brokers and home office employees who loathe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care (PPACA), seeing HealthCare.gov flake out the first day has got to be sweet.
From the perspective of readers who at least support the general aims of PPACA, if not necessarily every convoluted sentence in the law, the idea that exchange website might attract a lot of traffic and enroll a lot of people is sweet.
It would be great if everyone could suspend moments of clubbing the folks on the other side with a tire iron long enough to remember that the real goal is to help people live healthy, happy lives as efficiently as possible.
If the commercial producers and commercial insurers operating in the traditional markets show, fair and square, that they can outdo the exchanges, at least for most, that’s not really a loss for any PPACA advocate who was thinking clearly. In that case, the PPACA exchanges will simply verify what many LifeHealthPro.com readers have been saying all along. We’ll know the traditional markets really are the best health finance option.
If HealthCare.gov and the state exchanges somehow end up working well and, eventually, crowd out some (or a lot) of the traditional commercial market: That might be challenging for some in that market, but, in the long run, who really wants to make a living by increasing the likelihood that poor, desperately ill people will go bankrupt? If HealthCare.gov and PPACA work at making health insurance more efficient, it would be glorious work for health agents to shift away from focusing on sickness insurance to focusing on helping consumers address the many other poorly addressed risks in their lives.
As E.J. Wohlgemuth, the founder of National Underwriter, one of the LifeHealthPro.com print publications, wrote long ago, our organization “believes that the best interests in the insurance business are served by taking the stand of the public. In the final analysis, the insurance business can only be successful if it is conducted on the basis of the truest and best service of which it is capable to its clients and the public.”
And I think most health insurance agents and brokers recognize that. Some have gotten angry with me for trying to cover the effect of PPACA on producer commissions. Some have told me, “All I care about is the damage that I think this law will do to my clients.” A few have told me they’re praying PPACA will help their clients with health problems.
So, of course, on the one hand, it’s great to make a lot of money by writing and selling health insurance.
On the other hand, it’s great if PPACA — or disproof of PPACA — makes consumers better off.
On the third hand: It would be great if general-interest publications would pay more attention to the creative, intelligent, practical, analytical, pomposity-puncturing people involved in selling, setting up and running health plans, and let them shift the nature of the PPACA conversation away from the Battle of the Red Egos vs. the Blue Egos, toward figuring out what really works best for consumers.