Insurance agents are talking about reports that some Medicare helplines may absorb agents’ clients.
Bryan Wampler, a Mississippi-based agent, started one recent online conversation about the topic.
One of his Medicare supplement insurance clients lacked basic Medicare B physician and outpatient services coverage. The client called what seemed to be a state-sponsored Medicare call center, to get help with ironing out the Part B coverage problem. The helpline worker resolved the client’s Medicare Part B program, then asked, “What are your plans for Medicare supplement insurance coverage?”
The client told the helpline worker what Wampler had recommended. The helpline worker transferred the client to a Medicare assistance center that signed the client up for the coverage Wampler had recommended.
“I was completely bypassed out of the entire process,” Wampler wrote in the online conversation, which he shared with ThinkAdvisor Life/Health. “Even worse, not only did the Medicare agent intercept on the Medicare side, the Medicare representative went further and even accessed into the group medical insurance side, which I also handle.”
Other agents told Wampler that they had heard of similar problems cropping up all over the country, and, in some cases, of insurers’ own call center reps absorbing agents’ business.
Quentin Ledford, a Tennessee-based agent, spotted Wampler’s report and shared it with HAFA. Ledford said in an email interview that he believes some cases of helpline client absorption, such as the one in which the helpline worker got into Wampler’s client’s group heath file, may raise compliance questions.
“This kind of access, without the express written consent of either the client or the employer, is definitely a violation of privacy and confidentiality laws,” Ledford said.
Other trends may have made agents more conscious of the activities of insurance helplines, ombudsman programs, and other government-sponsored and nonprofit organization consumer support programs.
In recent years, agents have been watching Affordable Care Act public exchange program Navigators and other nonprofit exchange helpers, such as certified application counselors, move closer toward what agents’ think of us their domain.
In August, for example, CMS offered nonprofit ACA exchange helpers a webinar that included a presentation on how to help exchange plan enrollees sign up for Medicare.