Health agents keep on fighting

Health insurance agents were probably the notable losers in the debate over Obamacare’s rules on the medical loss ratios. Their last minute plea to exempt their commissions from the definition of premium failed.

But all is not lost. Late last month, the NAIC announced a special task force to “address potential adverse impacts on the role of licensed health insurance agents and brokers resulting from the new federal health care reform law.” Quoth Kevin McCarty, Florida’s insurance commissioner.

With the recent issuance by HHS of the medical loss ratio (MLR) regulations to be imposed on insurers, there is a very real possibility the role of health insurance agents will be impacted in a negative way. Health insurance is a complex product and experienced and licensed agents are a valuable resource for consumers. We intend to work with the agent community and our colleagues at HHS to maintain that resource.

I’m sympathetic to anyone working in health care – at the doctors’ office, in the hospital, at the pharmaceuticals. Health care reform will have wrenching changes as we try to squeeze the gross inefficiencies out of the system. And I don’t expect anyone to quietly accept a fate dealt by others.

Nevertheless, the gravy train is over. Every player in health care is going to feel pain in the coming decade, if Obamacare is going to work.

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