Experienced health insurance agents and brokers have spent four years learning how the Affordable Care Act version of the individual major medical insurance market works, and now everything may be about to change.
Or not. No one really knows.
President-elect Donald Trump and many Republicans in Congress campaigned on the idea of wanting to repeal Obamacare. Some were vague about which parts of the Affordable Care Act package they think “Obamacare” includes, and they have shared different visions of what an Obamacare replacement package might look like.
Health policy watchers say Republicans might find that killing and blocking parts of the ACA is much easier than blocking or replacing the whole thing.
Analysts have started talking about the possibility that Congress could suddenly change the ACA system in the middle of the year, without providing transitional relief or an ACA replacement. In that scenario, insurers might dump policies or change major medical policy terms in the middle of the year.
Meanwhile, health insurance marketers need something to market.
Plenty are still selling ordinary individual major medical as hard as they can. A search for “Obamacare” on Google will still bring up a column of ads from exchange plan marketers.
Others are using a heightened version of a strategy that has been popular ever since major ACA changes began taking effect: Focusing on products and services not directly affected by ACA turmoil.
For a look at three ways health sector marketers are trying to turn 2017 ACA uncertainty lemons into lemonade, read on.
WEX, a health account pioneer, greeted the arrival of a new type of HRAs by pointing out that it gets HRAs. (Image: Twitter screen capture)
1. Reminders about expertise
Some companies are sailing past the uncertainty about individual major medical products by telling the world about their expertise, rather than promoting specific types of insurance products.
The consulting arms of insurance brokers, plan administrators, and plan support services vendors are in an especially good position to do this.
President Obama recently created a new type of health account option, the qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement, or QSEHRA, when he signed the 21st Century Cures Act package into law. A QSEHRA gives a small employer a legal way to give workers cash they can use to buy their own individual health coverage. It’s not clear whether firms can really sell the accounts themselves at this point, but they can sell the support services employers can use to try offering the accounts, even though regulations implementing the new law are not yet in place.
Salt Lake City-based Zane Benefits Inc., an HRA administration firm, immediately began promoting PeopleKeep, a program that will provide support services for employers offering QSEHRAs.
Fargo, North Dakota-based WEX Health, a company that operates health account payment card systems, is using press releases and Twitter to point out that it too offers the tools employers need to offer QSEHRAs.
Many brokers are sending out e-mail newsletters and organizing events focusing on discussions about what the incoming Trump administration might do about health insurance in the coming year.