Published from the Springfield Business Journal
A Conversation With… John C. Osborn
Tell me about Osborn & Associates. What type of insurance do you focus on?
We are a wholesale broker that caters to other independent insurance agents throughout the Midwest. We provide contracts to independent agencies for Medicare supplement, Medicare advantage, major medical and life insurance companies. We have been serving our industry since 1993 and have more than 85 years combined experience in health and life insurance.
|Company: Osborn & Associates
Education: Attended Missouri State University; licensed in health and life insurance since 2001
In the blood: Osborn is a third-generation insurance agent, following in the footsteps of his grandmother, step-grandfather and father, Gary Osborn, who founded Osborn & Associates.
Extra duty: He is president-elect of the Missouri Association of Health Underwriters, media chair of the Springfield Association of Health Underwriters, and member of the national and state associations of insurance and financial advisers.
What is the health care outlook for President Barack Obama’s second term, and do we know more now than we did before the election?
We’ve got direction that the Affordable Care Act will be upheld and the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate as a tax, so what you’ll see is a lot of products that are going to be developed on a state-by-state basis and offered on both public and private exchanges. The initial public enrollment period begins Oct. 1, 2013, so the feds have a lot of work to do to get Missouri up to speed in the state-based exchange it will have to offer. Whether or not independent agents will be able to offer those products and get compensated, that’s all left to be said.
The federal government has not included licensed health insurance agents into (the plan for) facilitating public enrollments into the exchange. The federal government is not accounting for the value that an agent provides to the public in terms of outreach and time spent helping the public with their individual needs.
What is a public health exchange?
It’s quite simply a portal to determine your choices and eligibility for one of the products that are available in your state. A lot of people have tried to describe an exchange as essentially a website or marketplace. It’s a marketplace with very defined options that you can choose from multiple carriers.
On Nov. 6, Missouri voters passed Proposition E, which gives the state legislature, rather than the governor, power to create a state health exchange under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has extended the creation deadline to Dec. 16. Can Missouri hit that deadline and should the state try or let the federal government create an exchange for it?
The governor announced the other day since he was re-elected and Prop E went through, he would have to call a special session – which is highly unlikely – and then both the House and Senate would have to vote for exchange legislation. It passed in the House last time, but failed in our Senate and we were left with gridlock. It doesn’t look good to get anything pushed through, so they are just not going to file. We will have the feds come in and set up our exchange.
What would a federally created exchange mean for Missourians?
It means the state of Missouri will not only have an exchange that is set up by the feds, but has oversight provided by the federal government. Essentially, there will be one model – which will be very similar to Massachusetts – that they will offer for individual and group health insurance. The federal government exchanges will have government subsidies and tax credits available for those exchanges. Missourians will only be eligible for a certain plan based on needs, but it may not be the best or the greatest level of coverage that will be available on the exchange.
How will the Affordable Care Act change the way employers provide health care insurance?
I think employers will – depending upon the guidance they receive and the numbers they are presented – cancel their group health insurance and send those folks into an exchange product because it’s more affordable for employers. Or you might see a reduction in the amount of employee hours in order to accommodate their business operating costs for eligibility within these products. I think we may see less full-time workers at some places.