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To tech firms, health brokers look beautiful

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Health insurers and government agencies sometimes seem to act as if agents and brokers rank, in terms of importance, just a little above horse thieves.

Technology services companies still operate on the assumption that agents and brokers are somebody. Several have recently expressed their confidence in the future of the health insurance producer community by introducing technology tools designed with them in mind.

Here’s a look at three of the new offerings.

1. The InsurStore website

Benefit Advantage, an affiliate of Health Alliance Network, recently introduced InsurStore, a Web-based service that helps the agents and brokers who use BenefitMall systems to find and compare supplemental benefits products.

Another company, GBO/Insur IQ, has helped Benefit Advantage offer fully electronic, Web-based enrollment for the products offered, managers say.

The menu now includes dental insurance, telemedicine benefits services, a health care discount card, prepaid legal services, critical illness insurance, and a veterinary care discount plan.

See also: BenefitMall unveils new brand

BenefitMall has relationships with about 20,000 benefits brokers and accountants.

2. PlanCompass Pro

Vericred Inc. is rolling out a subscription-based service that can help agents and brokers figure out which health plan networks their clients’ doctors are in. 

The PlanCompass Pro service shows which networks the doctors are in whether the plans are sold through the new PPACA public exchange systems or off-exchange.

Managers say their service can cut the time needed to do thorough network analyses to minutes, from hours.

Ritter Insurance Marketing, an insurance field marketing operation, will be helping Vericred market the service to agents, brokers and other people who help consumers compare health plans.

See also: Could the Current Political Attack on Plan F Be Based on a Logical Flaw?

Vericred introduced a version of the service aimed at consumers in late 2014.

3. BerniePortal PPACA report filing service

Bernard Health, the company that runs the BerniePortal human resources platform for smaller employers, has received a Transmitter Control Code from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The move means that the company can help brokers with small-group benefits clients by filing Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C PPACA information returns for brokers’ benefits clients.

The 1095-C gives information about employees’ benefits and is sent to employees and the IRS.

The 1094-C is a cover sheet form that will go only to the IRS.

Employers are supposed to send the forms out by early 2016.

Jason Medlin, a representative for Bernard Health, said employers should work with their benefits brokers when adopting and using PPACA information reporting systems.

“Their health care broker is who they rely on for compliance with the health care law,” Medlin says. “Solutions not supported by the broker put the employer at risk of finding itself in the middle of juggling a variety of vendors with different agendas solving a new, complex problem.”

See also: Insurance storefronts bring big business

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