The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released a paper by analysts at the Urban Institute that seems to have nothing at all to do with exchange plan enrollee counting problems at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) but has plenty to do with those problems.
Analysts looked at the HHS-run exchanges in North Carolina and South Carolina.
The states are right next to each other, and similar in many ways, but enrollment activity was much stronger at the North Carolina exchange than at the South Carolina exchange. One possible reason proposed: the nonprofit exchange program outreach people in North Carolina had a much better relationship with agents and brokers than the outreach people in South Carolina had. The brokers in South Carolina felt as if they were frozen out of the exchange program, and the nonprofit outreach people in South Carolina weren’t quite sure whether they were allowed to refer tough cases to brokers.
One reason brokers may be so helpful to an exchange is simply that they know they’re doing.
Another reason may be that, because they know what they’re doing, because they have a degree of financial security as a result of their ability to get out there and close sales, and because they, by nature, tend to have a stubborn, independent streak, brokers can be honest.
This week, higher-profile PPACA news came out: HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell made headlines by announcing that HHS inflated exchange plan totals a few weeks ago by adding dental plan enrollees to the exchange qualified health plan (QHP) enrollment total.