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Maryland Producers Organize to Preserve Role in Health Insurance Exchanges

Two Maryland insurance organizations have formed a coalition to preserve the role of producers as the state moves toward implementing exchanges under the federal health...
November 23, 2010

Two Maryland insurance organizations have formed a coalition to preserve the role of producers as the state moves toward implementing exchanges under the federal health reform act. The Maryland Association of Health Underwriters and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of Maryland have formed the Health Insurance Buyers & Brokers Coalition (HIBBC) in preparation for the state legislature beginning work on forming the insurance exchanges.

The coalition's organizers say they hope to articulate to legislators and others the value of insurance agents and brokers.

HIBBC published online a set of principles they want to see in Maryland's exchange, including: management by a nonprofit entity, rather than a government agency, with representatives from small businesses, insurers and producers; a primary focus on securing coverage for the uninsured; and costs to be borne solely by the exchange, without public funding or assessments on persons not using the exchange.

In addition, the coalition advocates that any person acting on behalf of the exchange, or as a "navigator," should be subject to the same Maryland insurance statutes that govern health insurance producers. The exchange should be limited to providing health insurance and related products only, and it should not be authorized to provide any other insurance products or services.

And in its public outreach efforts, the exchange should be prohibited from the direct solicitation of business from persons or businesses that already participate in the private insurance market.

"Not since 1993 have we seen such a threat to our profession," Stephen J. Salamon, a principal at Landmark Insurance & Financial Group, told about 300 insurance agents and brokers meeting in Linthicum, Md. on November 17. He was referring to the failed effort of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton to create a national health care plan.

What It Means to Agents: Although agents were successful in getting Congress to include language in the law guaranteeing that they can sell policies offered through the health insurance exchanges, a certain bias still exists toward agents and brokers on the part of some of those involved in setting up the exchanges. Some view the exchanges as nothing more than "web portals" where people will get sent to research various health policies on their own, before buying online or getting steered to direct writers.

PIA is actively involved at the NAIC, at the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) and with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in reminding everyone that licensed agents and brokers must be a part of these exchanges.

Click here to read Md. Insurance Brokers Form Group to Preserve Jobs (Ins. & Financial Advisor 11/18/10)

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