The highly anticipated rollout of the new health insurance exchanges / marketplace has provided plenty to talk about. Unfortunately for Obamacare supporters, it has provided enormous amounts of ammunition to opponents as the exchange websites have been nothing short of a collasal failure. Fortunately, there is a better solution.
First and foremost, I am not a licensed health insurance agent. Like many of you, I have tried numerous times to access the site, both for myself and to assist clients in obtaining coverage. After several weeks of frustration, constantly being kicked-out of the site and having to start over, and our clients being so fed-up that they stopped trying, I (accidentally) realized last week that there is a much easier solution – use an agent! Not surprisingly, my favorite resource for Affordable Care Act fact vs. fiction, Carolyn McClanahan, is all over this in her column this week at Forbes.com: The Unknown Workaround To Healthcare.gov
An agent can provide access to all the same policies (and more) that are available on the exchange, but unlike the websites, an agent provides you with access to a reliable, capable resource that will help you navigate your options and choose from the dozens of policies available to you. Better yet, the enrollment process with an agent ensures that you never have to visit the exhange sites ever again!
There is an endless amount of misinformation being spread about the new law, including commentary about the need to use the exchange sites to qualify for premium tax credits. In reality, you do not have to use the exchange website, you simply have to choose a qualified policy from the exchange itself. In most states, a licensed agent can access the exact same policies that appear on the exchange sites.
My “accidental” discovery occured in the course of helping some clients look for new coverage to replace their existing group plan. In reviewing the renewal rates that were presented by their current agent, it became very clear that replacing their existing group plan with comparable individual plans from the exchange would save them several thousand dollars each year.
Before we even bothered trying to register on the MNSure wesbite, however, we spoke with a different agent to see if she could obtain more favorable group rates than were being offered in the renewal. Her recommendation was to remove the group plan and purchase the exact same policy we had been targeting on the exchange. At that moment, it clicked…forget the exchange sites, health insurance agents can provide the same thing in a far more efficient manner!