The insurance landscape is changing. But the shifts won’t just affect consumers – brokers are also looking at an alteration in the way they currently do business.
The new healthcare reform law requires states to create insurance exchanges so people not covered by an employer plan can shop for affordable coverage. Some industry analysts believe that consumers faced with a larger menu of options from which to choose will seek a provider that can offer comprehensive support. If that opinion becomes reality, there is concern that insurance brokers who operate smaller outfits may find themselves unable to compete.
On the other hand, the broker might be needed more than ever. A good broker could have significant value in translating the complexities of an exchange versus the private market. In Indianapolis alone, some predictions estimate that more than 800,000 people will move over to some type of exchange. Brokers will play a critical role in making these transitions happen smoothly.
For all the supposed simplicity, the exchanges are still an unfamiliar commodity. Individuals and small businesses will still need to figure out which coverage best suits their needs. Brokers and agents can act as guides for determining the appropriate coverage. In addition, employers that currently offer benefits to employees might feel intimidated by all the new regulations. A broker, using an existing relationship with an employer, can help identify new insurance opportunities available through an exchange.
As the healthcare reform law crawls closer to full implementation in 2014, it’s important to remember that most consumers will still seek an expert to guide them through the process. Large healthcare distributors may find themselves with greater levels of influence, but the tools they offer to consumers need to keep pace. If they are unable to meet those demands, the role of the broker becomes a tremendous necessity.