A screen capture from a HAFA video posted Sept. 21, 2020 B. Ronnell Nolan (Credit: HAFA)

The head of Health Agents for America (HAFA) says the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) used unfair methods to assess the honesty of U.S. health insurance agents.

B. Ronnell Nolan, HAFA’s president, has blasted the GAO’s new agent performance report in a HAFA Live update video.

The GAO recently had undercover investigators call 31 health insurance agents. The investigators pretended to have pre-existing conditions. Eight of the agents steered the callers toward short-term health insurance or other products other than individual major medical insurance, when the agents clearly should have encouraged those callers to buy individual major medical coverage from an Affordable Care Act (ACA) public exchange program, according to the GAO.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., responded to the GAO report by saying that regulators should hold companies and brokers that steer consumers to the wrong types of coverage accountable, by putting people in jail, according to an article about the report in The Hill.

Nolan said in the HAFA Live video that attacking the reputation of all agents based on the performance of eight agents in a 31-agent sample was wrong.

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Louisiana alone has about 10,000 health insurance agents, Texas has about 30,000 agents, and California has more than 100,000 agents, Nolan said in the video, which is available on YouTube.

“This government agency called 31 agents,” Nolan said. “Thirty-one.”

To get a good idea of what agents and brokers do across the United States, the GAO needs to use a sample bigger than 31 people, Nolan said.

“We [agents] work hard,” Nolan said. “Since the ACA was passed, we lost our commissions. In many states, we are paid zero, and people are still working hard to sell insurance to consumers, and to help clients. But we are continuously brought down, and criminalized.”

Nolan said the GAO and Casey should call her directly, and call HAFA members directly.

“Call the good people,” Nolan said. “Don’t pick 31 people that you’ve hand-picked (God knows where you got the people you hand-picked) and then tell us that we’re bad people, and that we need to be put in jail.”

Nolan encouraged HAFA members and other agents to contact Casey tell him how they operate, and how they do not appreciate being categorized based on the performance of eight agents in a 31-agent sample.

Agents should also call their own senators to complain about the GAO report, Nolan said.

“If I appear a little angry, I am angry,” Nolan said. “I am so sick of having to defend what we do, and that we do what we do the right thing.”

Agents are doing the right thing even though they’re making 90%, or even 100%, less than they did pre-ACA, Nolan said.

“So, stop attacking agents and brokers,” Nolan said. “We stand strong. We work hard.  We care about our clients, and, in many cases, we do it for way less than we ever did before they passed the ACA. We work in the box you gave us, and we don’t appreciate this report.”

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