My Experience of Using a Health Insurance Web Broker Site
Last year was really difficult for many health insurance agents that enrolled consumers using the infamous Healthcare.gov. Although the site was much improved this year I decided well in advance to use a web broker portal to do my exchange enrollments this year.
What attracted me to the idea of using a web broker portal was being able to track all of my business in one place. I also liked the idea of being able to look up a clients application directly from the Healthcare.gov site without needing to call Healthcare.gov. If my client did not get an eligibility letter I could go back to their account and look it up. At the end of Open Enrollment I was able to save a copy of all of my clients in a spread sheet to my computer with all of their plan data. The fact that the site was mobile friendly made it easy for me to do business from an iPad even when I was on the go.
The main reason I decided to use a web broker site to submit my business was the promise that my National Producer Number (NPN) would be automatically electronically attached to each application that was submitted by me. So how did it go?
For the most part it went smoothly. I submitted applications to four different companies this Open Enrollment season. For three of the four companies all of my information transferred successfully 100% of the time. Of the three companies that were successful one of them did provide an easy way to have the broker added to their clients account if for some reason the NPN did not transfer when the application reached the company. Although these are not the companies that pay the highest commissions they have been very easy to work with and very customer friendly. The fourth company dropped my NPN from most of my applications. Since they do not have a dedicated agent broker portal where we can see the full status of our clients including the account number it's been a very tedious process trying to track down my book of business. They say it's a Marketplace issue but with the other companies being 100% successful I'm not convinced that it's not something internal with the company.
Are there any drawbacks to using a web broker site? In most cases there is one of the following depending on what company you choose to use. A set up fee, a monthly fee, and or a per application fee. The prices vary and are set by each company. For me it was well worth the price as the company that I chose gives you discounts based on volume which made one of my months absolutely free.
Was it worth the cost involved? For me absolutely. Each individual agent would need to decide for himself whether it would be worth it depending on their budget and their point of view. Healthcare.gov is free but the web broker site has saved me a lot of time and effort. It also allowed me to do a lot of my work over the phone without using a screen sharing program, which only works when the client has internet access. This way I was able to expand my client base.
Will I use a web broker portal again? Yes. I cannot wait to get started. I will continue to use web broker portals until Healthcare.gov decides to have agent broker portals where we can keep track of our submissions similar to what Maryland Health Connection did this year. A great concept that I support since all if my submissions with them were 100% successful.