Without a doubt, the strongest comments I’ve heard in opposition to ObamaCare have come from insurance brokers. No surprise there. With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act comes health insurance exchanges, which almost certainly will cut into broker business. And brokers have already seen commission rate cuts as health insurers move to offset reform-related profit pressures.
Yet in working on a soon-to-be-published story for our sister publication ACO Market News on broker impressions of the concept of accountable care, I surprisingly came across one broker and one general agent who are more accepting of reform.
“I support reform,” says David Villar, president of Pacific Coast Benefits (Gilroy, CA), admitting he’s one of the few brokers who does. “Something has to be done to control cost,” Villar says.
Dave Mordo, director of small group operations for Walsh Benefits (Fair Haven, NJ), says that “PPACA should not put a broker out of business.” Mordo, who has been a general agent and broker for more than 30 years, admits that “the broker may have to adjust the business model and diversify.” For example, he urges brokers to consider branching into long-term care, individual life and Medicare Supplemental insurance. “What are you waiting for?” he asks.
Mordo suggests he may be a bit more optimistic because he’s already survived health insurance reform initiatives in New York and New Jersey, which both offer guaranteed issue and community rating. “Yes, we’re concerned,” especially about exchanges, he says. But he adds that exchanges will be great for the uninsured.
My personal view is life will be a lot harder for brokers under ObamaCare. But I still think many will survive because they provide a real service. When I owned a small business, I used a broker for my company’s health insurance. It was efficient and convenient — and will continue to be under reform.