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Industry Spotlight > Broker Dealers

How long does it take to buy an exchange plan?

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Shopping for public exchange plan coverage may take typical consumers in Minnesota an average of about 80 minutes to three hours.

Back in 2012, analysts at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that filling out an exchange qualified health plan (QHP) application would take 10 minutes. A year later, they estimated the QHP shopping process would take about 50 minutes for a consumer working with a navigator.

Agents interviewed in April 2013 estimated that helping a well-organized consumer enroll in QHP coverage over the telephone might take 30 to 45 minutes of agency time.

Managers of MNsure, Minnesota’s state-based exchange, came up with their estimates of QHP shopping time by polling exchange navigators — nonprofit ombudsmen — and exchange brokers, draft of the meeting minutes

Brokers estimated that shopping takes 20 minutes for clients who are working with a broker and about 45 minutes for clients who are shopping on their own. They estimated actually completing the enrollment application takes 60 minutes, for a total of 80 minutes to 105 minutes of shopping and enrollment time.

Twenty-six percent of the navigators estimated the process takes the people they work with an hour of conversation plus the time needed to fill out the application, and 59 percent of the navigators said one to three hours of follow-up conversation was typical.

“The process is quicker if the client’s primary concern is price or deductibles, and it takes longer for research on things like networks, doctors and drug formularies,” according to the minutes.


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