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How to get health brokers to love you

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Managers of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange in Colorado have had their ups and downs, but they’ve also made a serious effort to reach out to their state’s agents and brokers, and they’ve done their work in public. 

Any insurance marketers who want to learn what to do by copying Connect for Health Colorado, or using the organization’s strategy presentations as a springboard for coming up with their own ideas, just have to look at the board meeting packets posted on the organization’s website, at

Exchange managers face daunting challenges: PPACA requires them to make their exchange self-sustaining, without relying on federal funding.

The state still has a Democrat sitting in the governor’s seat, but Republicans won their first majority in the state senate in decades in 2014. Republicans also hold a one-seat majority in the state General Assembly.

The exchange also has faced challenges from glitches; delays in developing much-wanted broker support systems; and a struggle to hire an executive director. The last full-fledged executive director, Patty Fontneau, left to go to work for Cigna in July. Gary Drews, who did not want to be the executive director, has been filling in since August. Federal auditors cited a lack of top-level management as a concern in March. The exchange board thought Robert Malone, the chief executive of a Lakewood, Colo., health claim review firm, would take the job, but he ended up bowing out.

The board has tried to fill the gap by naming Kevin Patterson, who has been working as an administrator in Colorado for years at the municipal and state level, to be the new interim executive director.

In spite of all of the challenges, the exchange expects to have 111,459 paid individual coverage enrollees in June, and 336 Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) plan employer sponsors with 2,688 covered lives. Like most of the SHOP divisions, the Colorado SHOP division is performing below expectations, but it’s publishing its numbers, not hiding them, and it does estimate that it’s captured about 1 percent of the state’s fully insured small-group market.

For a look at some of the ideas the exchange has for improving its relationship with agents and brokers, and increasing those sales figures, drawn from a recent board committee meeting presentation, read on. 


1. Improve the computers.

Exchange managers have said they simply have to plow ahead with efforts to fix problems, add the functions already promised, and improve the broker portal.

The exchange also needs to add a broker lead sharing system, exchange managers say.

See also: Who do PPACA exchange agents help?


2. Have more brokers and better use of them. 

The exchange is organizing a series of broker roadshows that will start May 28, in Fort Collins, Colo. Exchange managers used a broker survey to develop the agenda.

The broker team managers also have organized monthly broker focus group meetings, and they are arranging appointments for face-to-face meetings with the top exchange brokers, and brokers who could be top exchange brokers.

The exchange managers hope to hire more broker team members and have one member of the broker team focus on managing small-group broker relations.

The exchange managers also hope to recruit high-performance brokers to help coach nonprofit enrollment assistance providers.

See also: Assisters, brokers fight for credit in Colorado 

Fruit and vegetable market

3. Add appealing products.

Another priority for the Colorado exchange is “potential ancillary products.”

The managers of the Colorado exchange have been talking for years about finding ways to team up with sellers of products such as vision insurance, as a way to help consumers and generate referral fee revenue.

See also: Exchange wants ancillary product partners


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