After reading a rabid rant against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), I thought to myself how unsurprised I was.
Having been active in many health agent chat groups, and having attended local National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) and National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) meetings, getting to know the politics and sociology of fellow agents over the past several years, it all makes sense.
Who are health agents? If you visit the chat boards and go to meetings and look around, you don’t see many minorities or women. You don’t see many liberals. This is a white-male industry. And for the most part these are the angry white males of the political right…often the far right. As the kids say, “It is what it is.”
At the macro level there are two broad mainsprings of dissent which feed rants expressing the total hatred of the PPACA and anyone connected to it.
The first is economic.
Who is going to be in favor of any plan that cuts their compensation from 50 percent to 70 percent? Agents make a lot of noise about “it’s about the client” but at the end of the day, it’s about the commission.
Disagree? Well, after four years of discussing PPACA with colleagues, I’m convinced of two things.
The first is that if the PPACA was the greatest plan in the world — if it met every operational criteria of the health agent community but paid little or no commission, it would still be vilified.
Second, if PPACA was the absolutely worst system in the world, but where even an average agent could earn a sustainable living (which I believe is $50,000 a year) by working normal hours, it would be hailed as the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’ll bet even at an “easy” $30,000 a year in commission, agents would be lining up to shake President Obama’s hand and hug Kathleen Sebelius!
If you want to know why so many agents hate PPACA, it’s not about following the clients, it’s about following the money.
The other reason for the vitriol against the PPACA is historical.
Bottom line, health agents, most of whom are political conservatives, are on the wrong side of history, as conservatives always are.
Going back to their anti-union, anti-civil rights, anti-voting rights, pro-segregation, pro-Vietnam War positions of the past 50 years, it is no wonder that the sons are as anti-PPACA in 2013 as their fathers were anti-Medicare in 1963.
Insurance agents as a group, and health agents in particular, simply don’t like change…because they are conservatives.
For some reason I’ve never understood, conservative agents believe that the rest of the country believes as they do.
But it is not so.
We had a national referendum on PPACA in the last election. The country could have voted for former Gov. Romney who vowed to end PPACA on his first day in office. He lost.
We’ve had court case after court case about PPACA in the past four years, yet conservatives have lost there too. It has been upheld as the law of the land.
The carriers that health agents represent have not joined agents in any meaningful opposition to PPACA…they see a viable business model under it, mainly because they wrote it!
Investors favor the PPACA. Those who follow the industry believe that the profits selling over the web without costly underwriting and agent comp are going to skyrocket. See the 52-week trading range for Wellpoint (NYSE: WP) and United Health (NYSE: UNH) and you will see how investors like the profit prospects of PPACA, despite anti-PPACA editorials in the conservative Wall Street Journal.