Oct. 31, 2016 | Julie Appleby/Kaiser Health News Money
With open enrollment set to begin tomorrow, some health insurance brokers are already fielding questions about coverage and whether existing plans will still be available next year. For an increasing number of brokers, there’s also another question: Will they get paid?
Some insurers—including Cigna and Aetna—will not pay licensed agents and brokers a commission for helping people enroll in individual health insurance coverage for 2017 in many states, while others have reduced their commissions. They join United Healthcare, which dropped commissions on new business this year in many states.
That is already prompting some brokers to step back from the exchanges when open enrollment begins next week, which could be a hurdle for consumers who normally would seek their help navigating the complexities of insurance coverage. (Government-supported navigators are still available.)
In Nevada, where the largest carrier in the state has cut commissions for new business and another has dropped payments to $10 a month per customer, broker Vickie Mayville is weighing her options.
“It sometimes takes four hours to ensure clients have the right plan,” said Mayville, who runs her own agency in Las Vegas. “I will help my clients and anyone referred to me, but I’m not actively seeking out new clients.”
The changes to these payments come at a time when, for many consumers, selecting a plan may be even more complex than in the previous three years, as insurers drop out of markets and those that remain alter their networks of doctors and hospitals or make other variations to the 2017 plans.
“I’m trying to find coverage that will include my doctor, which is hard to find,” said Shelby Nathans, 31, who lives in Columbus, Ohio. This year, the plan she was in was placed into receivership — and she had to switch just months ago to a new insurer, which she likes. But now she has learned her primary care doctor isn’t in the plan’s network for 2017.
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