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PPACA exchange season: Brokers respond

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Many agents and brokers question whether the government should be running the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchange system.

Many question whether the government is cut out to run a health insurance exchange system.

But few question whether the exchange system is a marketing force to be reckoned with.

The glitch-plagued exchanges run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and various state-based organization offer moderate-income consumers access to PPACA premium subsidies that can cut the enrollee’s share of the cost of major medical coverage to pennies per day. At, Charles Gaba has estimated that the public exchange system may have persuaded almost 10 million Americans to sign up for coverage, and about 8.2 million to pay for coverage.

The exchange system is getting ready to start its second annual open enrollment period Nov. 15, and many producers are launching campaigns that tie in to the hoopla the public exchanges hope to generate.

Earlier, we looked at an early tie-in TV commercial.

Here’s a look at some of the Web-based open enrollment tie-in marketing efforts now operating out in the field.

Google search results screenshot

1. Some of the key battlegrounds are in Google and Bing search results.

One way to track the tie-in campaigns is to plug search terms such as “health insurance exchange” or “health insurance marketplace” into search engines such as, and

At Google, for example, big health insurers and the exchanges themselves have claimed most of the slots on the first page of results.

But two brokers and referral services showed up in a list of paid ads in the right-hand column on Friday, and six paid ads by brokers and referral services showed up in another list of results generated Monday.

One New York firm, Healthfirst Inc., has come up with a search result strategy based on an old-school touch: It promises it will have “knowledgeable specialists give you a call.”

Another advertiser,, counts on the appeal of brand names. In one paid search ad, it advertises that it can offer consumers access to “Blue Cross, Aetna, CIGNA & More!” 

ACA Marketplace Enrollment Solutions

2. A referral network is emphasizing its status as a CMS Certified Private Enrollment Firm.

The Hallberg Insurance Network — a company that focuses on taking referrals for lines of business that other agents can’t write — has set up an “ACA Marketplace Enrollment Solutions” (ACAMES) unit to act as a private enrollment firm certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — the arm of HHS in charge of the PPACA exchange system.

Managers of the ACAMES unit have promoted it by issuing a press release through PRWeb.

Consumers who visit the site now, before open enrollment begins, will see a message aimed at consumers who may be eligible for special enrollment periods.

The site also offers messages aimed at employers, associations, agents and brokers, and individuals who are shopping early.

Other features include a live chat tool and an official explanatory cartoon.

Consumers who scroll to the bottom will see a Better Business Bureau rating widget.

HFG Marketplace site screen shot

3. Another broker is seeing who it can attract through Twitter.

Heritage Financial Group (HFG), a unit of Kemmons Wilson Insurance Group, has taken to social media to promote its PPACA exchange program. It courts consumers with messages such as, “Prices vary by area, so your answers to question online will help us find the plans that are right for you!”

Twitter users who click on the links in the HFG tweets end up at a partnership site run by HFG in conjunction with, an established Web-based insurance broker.

HFG offers a shopping tool, a collection of materials that explain how the exchange system works, and a section showing the names of some of the well-known news organizations that have written about