Health Insurance Agents Turning To Web Brokers For Assistance

Health Insurance Agent

The health insurance open enrollment period November 15th is just around the corner. Although many agents are anxious to get started many of us are not quick to forget the frustrations we faced last year. A website that did not work, not being given the tools we needed to work effectively with our clients, and not to mention slow or no commissions for many agents.

Advertisement

This year many health insurance agents are turning to Web Brokers for assistance. Why? Last year while enrolling consumers using the exchanges the agent ID was dropped from the clients application. Making it very difficult for agents to work on behalf of their clients and get credit for their work. There was a lack of access to the clients application and a lack of control when we needed to submit an application through the call center when the website was down. Not to mention the long 1-3 hour wait times on the phone. There was no agent services line. Also just recently agents were granted the privilege of speaking in behalf of their clients for a period of 365 days instead of the ridiculous 14-day period that was granted last year.

The experience with many of the carriers hasn’t been any different. Some of them do not deal directly with insurance agents forcing us to work through a third party, who in most cases did not work with exchange cases. Some carriers do not give us access to our book of business so we cannot keep up to date with the status of our client case. So due to not being agent friendly and lack of support many agents as well as myself have began looking for solutions to give our clients and ourselves a better experience this year.

Advertisement

So why work with a web broker? Most of them are totally client and agent friendly. The client does not have to wait until the end of the application process to see their plan and subsidy. So they do not have to waste an hour or more filling out an application to ultimately find out they do not qualify for anything. If the client prefers the agent can fill out the application on their behalf. This is possible because the agents sign into the exchange with their own FFM (Federally Facilitated Marketplace) ID and password. This eliminates the need to create an account on the exchange although the client will always have the option to do so using their application ID found in their eligibility letter. If the client accidentally deletes their eligibility letter the agent receives a copy, which they can send to the client.

Web brokers are also agent friendly because they provide many of the things that agents need to work effectively. The agent has access to the clients application since a copy is retained in the system. The agent can fill out the application on behalf of your client without their username and password. Your Agent ID is automatically tied to the clients application. All of your clients information will be stored in one place. Some web brokers provide a link that you can provide to your clients that prefer to self submit their application. The link ties the agent to the clients application so they can help them at any point during the application process and still get credit for it.

Is there a cost for this service? Yes. It varies depending on the company you choose. Many use a flat per month user fee, a per application fee and a set up fee. Some companies only use one of these payment methods but others use a combination of all three.

Not all agents agree as to whether this is a practical solution to our problems but there are many who feel it’s worth a try. Some feel that the investment isn’t worth it due to low commissions. Since this is the first time many of us will be turning to web brokers for solutions only time will tell what the results will be. So is it worth a try? Absolutely. But the choice is yours.

Advertisement

Comments

This is a really nice article, Ms. Sidbury. Thank-you! FYI, for lower volume producers, HealthSherpa and ACAExpress web-brokers seem to be best. There are no set-up or monthly fees. Instead, these two charge the agent $25 (one time) for each application. The one thing to be wary of however is in states that have expanded Medicaid. The children are often automatically sent to Medicaid if family income falls under 400% of FPL. This can also disqualify the entire family from receiving an APTC (subsidy), because the eligible family size is reduced. Because HealthCare.gov asks more questions than WebBroker sites, this auto-forcing of children to Medicaid can be avoided many times. The short-form application that WebBrokers use can also be their Achilles-heel in more complex situations. Allen
Thanks Allen. I've spoken extensively with both companies looking for ACA enrollment solutions. Health Sherpa is $25 per app. No set up fees but ACA Express offers their standard no set up fee plans for a $20 per app fee. This is an interesting comment you make on how childrens Medicaid can affect a families APTC in states that have expanded Medicaid. To my knowledge the APTC is based on family size and income. I have not found anything that says that children's Medicaid affects the APTC for the rest of the non Medicaid eligible family members. If you have any reference material on the subject please share it for my benefit and the benefit of other agents who may be considering using Web Broker services this year.
Question, does the web-broker include all insurance companies that sell in the marketplace, i.e., Blue Cross. Additionally, I have an agent who had business taken from a web-broker. Is this happening to anyone else? Is a non-compete signed?
WBE's are required to list on any Consumer Facing Sites all plans available to the best of their ability without prejudice. Best of their ability without prejudice means they cannot suggest, sort or preclude from viewing plans based on whether the compensation to an agent is higher or not. We have not only Consumer Facing Sites for our ACAExpress.com users but also an Agent Facing Site which agents use directly to enroll people. Fee free to email me and I can answer your other questions or specifics on carriers in individual states, etc.