With all the changes brought about by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), I think hard working agents have been treated with disrespect for all they do for health insurance consumers. The buyers seem to generally be happy they have an agent to guide them thru the maze that individual health has become.
So why are agent groups looking to extend the pain felt by our colleagues in supporting medical loss ratio (MLR) legislation removing us? I know that many seem to think that moving agents outside the MLR is a good idea, but I see it differently and I hope after reading this, you will too.
The entire issue here is ultimately about insurers meeting their MLR requirements under PPACA so that they don’t have to pay rebates to our clients. So to be clear, it’s about keeping more money in the pockets of the insurers, and somehow believing that this windfall will translate into some benefit for the agents. Who believes this theory, and why? I simply can’t figure out why some agent groups would care about helping these giant carriers make more money at their own expense.
If the carriers want the agents outside the MLR so they can make more money, then how about we get a guarantee of a floor of compensation in that legislation? Yes, I am advocating that we, as agents, support commission regulation to protect us from our carriers. They are the bigger threat to agents at this point, not the government.
Think about it: In all of PPACA, there’s only one place where agents, as a vital part of the system and earning compensation for being so, are memorialized. That’s the MLR provision. If you remove agents from the MLR, then the entire law is mute on the role of the agent. At that point, you can say good bye to any agent commissions in any health plans under PPACA.
The two bills in Congress now, H.R. 2328 and S. 1661 are inappropriately named as the “Access to Professional Health Advisors” and “Access to Independent Health Insurance Advisors” acts. They should be called the “More Corporate Welfare to Big Companies” act. These bills will both destroy any chance of agents being paid for their services in the individual markets. Somehow, the carriers have influenced some “agent associations” that by helping the home office make more money is a positive for agents. Even though the agents will be paying that money to the carrier so that they don’t owe our clients rebates. Has the world gone mad?