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NAHU members face the heat

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The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) is bringing more than 600 health insurance agents and brokers to Scottsdale, Ariz., this week for the group’s 84th annual meeting. The weather forecasters are predicting day-time high temperatures of 111 degrees.

Inside the conference rooms, NAHU members are still trying to make sense of the changes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) has made to the commercial health insurance market.

See also: NAHU 2012: More Waiting

PPACA started to make modest changes to the market within a year after President Obama signed it into law. In October, the PPACA public health insurance exchange system opened its doors. In January, the first “qualified health plans” (QHPs) sold through the PPACA exchange system and outside the exchange system started to provide system.

PPACA now requires that insurers sell all new individual and small-group major medical policies to people under age 65 without use of personal health information in sales decisions. The only information the issuers can use when issuing PPACA-compliant coverage is the applicant’s age, location and relationship with tobacco.

But health insurance producers are still waiting for answers to basic questions about:

  • How many people really have exchange or non-exchange QHP coverage;
  • how many have other types of PPACA-compliant coverage;
  • how many have non-compliant (but, apparently, legal) transitional coverage;
  • how many people who think they have PPACA-compliant coverage don’t, because of computer errors or their own errors;
  • which providers are actually in the PPACA-compliant plan networks;
  • how many of the PPACA-compliant plans are actually paying claims;
  • and whether what are supposed to be three big PPACA risk-management programs will perform as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has suggested.

NAHU leaders opened the general session today by encouraging NAHU members to be generous to health insurance producer lobbying efforts with their money, time and persuasive skills.

NAHU members convened as a frequent ally, the Republican Party, is facing a division between “traditional Republicans,” who defend the need for stability, and advocates of the Tea Party approach, who say efforts to defend stability veil efforts to protect entrenched interests against market forces. 

Haley Barbour, a former Republican governor of Mississippi, encouraged meeting attendees to take an open-minded approach to identifying possible allies. ”Purity is the enemy of victory,” Barbour said. “Someone who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend, not a 20 percent enemy.”

NAHU scheduled breakout sessions on topics such as underwriting ethics, sales communications skills, understanding Social Security, the rise of private exchanges, and use of LinkedIn to generate leads.

Ryan Thorn of South Jordan, Utah, is taking over from Tom Harte of Hampstead, N.J., as president. Donald Goldmann of Word and Brown — a pioneer in the private exchange market — is the new president-elect.

See also: Tom Harte to lead NAHU

See also: NAHU 2013: Bruce Benton looks back