The new public exchange program seems to be doing a great job of promoting the health insurance marketplace concept — for the benefit of private exchanges.
Josh Hilgers, president of Health Partners America, a health insurance sales support firm, said he gives the public exchanges a 75 percent to 90 percent chance of surviving into 2015, but private exchanges a 90 percent chance of dominating the market by 2020.
The government is good at setting rules and offering subsidies, but private companies are better at working with consumers, Hilgers said.
Hilgers laughed when asked how the first Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange open enrollment compares with the rollout of any other health insurance program.
“This is definitely the worst ever,” Hilgers said.
Many exchange enrollment systems are working better than they were a few weeks ago, and HPA has figured out how to get its own call center reps certified, Hilgers said.
Despite all of the bad publicity HealthCare.gov has been getting, managers of that site seem to have been reasonably responsive both to consumers and to agents, Hilgers said.
Meanwhile, all of the exchange publicity has increased health lead volume 150 percent and policy sales volume 100 percent since Oct. 1, Hilgers said.
Although the exchanges have gotten most of the attention, PPACA is requiring carriers to sell new individual health coverage on a guaranteed-issue basis in 2014, with age being the only personal health factor in setting prices.
HPA-affiliated agents seem to be getting most of their business from consumers replacing existing coverage, not from the uninsured.
Carriers are offering a good range of off-exchange products in most states, and, even though the underwriting rules may be increasing individual rates, the rates tend to be much lower than the guaranteed-issue group coverage many insurance buyers are replacing, Hilgers said.
Agents themselves continue to show strong interest in learning how to help clients work with the exchange system, Hilgers said. About 100 are signing up for HPA exchange education programs every week.