The making of an agent-friendly portal for health insurance agents
When the first open enrollment period was drawing near many health insurance agents were wondering if we would have a role in the sign up process. Less than two months before the beginning of open enrollment we were scrambling to get ready, attending meetings, completing training and getting appointed with all of the carriers on the exchange.
As the first day came to a close the health insurance agent forums were filled with opinions of the agents' frustrations with the website. As the season rolled on the list of frustrations grew. I participated in some of the conversations but many times I followed them just to see what others were thinking.
What were the major complaints that I saw?
One was agent information being deleted from client applications. Not having a way to track the status of our applications. The inability to correct simple mistakes without having to call the exchange and redo the entire application over the phone, which many times was a two hour wait and them another hour or more to reenter all of the information.
After spending a month calling dozens of places to hunt down all of my clients I felt there had to be a better way. I heard about Health Sherpa from Maryland Health Connection. I really liked the site and began using it just to give my clients an idea of what they could qualify for before we began the application process. I liked the tool so much that I sent an email to Health Sherpa just to thank them and let them know how much I loved their site. A few days later I was contacted by George Kalogeropoulos by email and was asked to give him my opinion on the site. I proposed to him the idea of a site with an agent portal that would make it easier for agents to track their business and correct simple mistakes in a timely fashion.
This past week June 3rd Ning Liang contacted me with a link to the new agent portal. I was excited to see that they considered the idea but I wanted to know what other agents thought of it. With the approval of Ning I shared the link and my original email with other health insurance agents in a few of my groups on Linkedin.
The 2 biggest concerns amongst the agents were the price and security of client information.
I spoke with Ning earlier today and gave him the agent’s feedback. For the creators of Health Sherpa this is a work in progress. At this moment nothing is set in stone. They are very reasonable and open to suggestions. Not everyone agrees with every new idea but we all have to use what works for us. The idea is a great one and in time with improvements I feel that it could be a great option for agents. When we have the tools we need to work efficiently we ultimately look more professional and we can focus more on or clients and the work that we do.
Some of the suggestions that I gave to Ning based on agent opinion were maybe to have a price for individual applications and another for small business applications. Another suggestion was having monthly subscriptions or a tiered pricing system based on volume as many companies do today.
What I love about Health Sherpa is it provides me with a great free search engine. You can get information on plans and pricing upfront without sharing all of your personal information. Over all I feel they are doing a good work and really look forward to following the progress of their work.
This is the link to the new agent portal site if you wanted to include it in the article.
My name is Sheron E Sidbury. I am an Independent Life and Health Insurance Agent serving MD and VA since 2008. I work with low and middle income families and impaired risk cases where the client has been declined or feel that they do not qualify for insurance based on their health.