Has it come to this?
A growing number of insurers are announcing they will not pay brokers and agents commissions to sell individual health insurance policies, both on and off The Marketplace. It seems they’re losing money in this segment of their business, so if they stop paying agents, maybe fewer people will sign up. Especially troubling – they report – are high risk individuals who sign up outside of the just ended Open Enrollment Period, using Special Enrollment Period rules that are allegedly circumvented with ease.
A couple of observations.
Even after rigorous credentialing, agent and broker sales practices are closely monitored by regulators and insurers. Any agent bending the rules does so at the risk of losing his/her license.
Individuals buying health insurance use agents only about 38% of the time, depending on who is keeping score.
If insurers want a larger healthier pool, and need consumers to play by the rules, shouldn’t they be doing everything possible to make well trained agents the conduit for coverage?
Oh, and by the way, my understanding is rates for individual health plans are set in stone for the year. If insurers stop paying commissions, they won’t be reducing premiums.