Sales compensation payment problems could hurt efforts by HealthCare.gov to hold on to its distribution force.
Kevin Counihan, HealthCare.gov’s chief executive officer, said Wednesday during a webinar with producers that agents and brokers facilitated about half of HealthCare.gov’s sales.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, set up HealthCare.gov to provide Affordable Care Act public exchange enrollment and administration services in states that are unwilling or unable to run their own exchange enrollment programs.
A CMS agent registration database shows HealthCare.gov, a family of Web-based health insurance supermarkets, has 84,840 agents registered for the 2016 plan year. That’s down from 102,992 for the 2015 plan year, but it’s up from 66,906 for the 2014 plan year.
Getting producers to return for the 2017 annual open enrollment period, which is set to start Nov. 1, may be difficult.
Some insurers slashed individual major medical commissions around 2010, when President Obama signed the bills that created the ACA exchange system into law. This year, many insurers have used sales commission cuts to try to limit sales of underpriced ACA exchange plans.
Some insurers appear to be on track to pull out of the exchange system entirely in 2017.
Meanwhile, producers say, getting issuers to pay commissions for past ACA exchange plan sales is often a nightmare.
Some state-based ACA exchanges, including Covered California, handle exchange plan commission payments. Managers of HealthCare.gov have tried to stay out of commission matters. HealthCare.gov says it will let agents put their National Producer Numbers on exchange users’ applications, and send the applications including the NPNs to the insurers, but that the producers and insurers have to handle commission bills and disputes themselves.
Problems with National Producer Numbers
B. Ronnell Nolan, president of New Orleans-based Health Agents for America, an agent group, said in an email interview that HealthCare.gov seems to have a hard time getting the NPNs to stick with the exchange users’ coverage applications.
“Everyone has had problems with being removed from the application,” Nolan said.