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Missouri Law Requires Navigators to Obtain Licenses

A bill signed into law by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on July 12 requires insurance navigators to obtain state licenses before they can start assisting consumers seeking to buy insurance on the state’s insurance exchange...
July 23, 2013

A bill signed into law by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on July 12 requires insurance navigators to obtain state licenses before they can start assisting consumers seeking to buy insurance on the state’s insurance exchange. The law prohibits navigators from receiving federal funds until they are licensed by the state, which can require them to post a bond, pay a fee and take ongoing training. Critics dispute the need for state training because navigators are required to take a 30-hour federally required training course and pass an exam, but insurance agents and brokers says the law will discourage unscrupulous counselors and ensure information is correctly disseminated.

“I don’t understand the opposition,” said Larry Case, executive vice president of the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA), a PIA affiliate. “To me, it’s just common-sense consumer protection.” Preventing fraud was the main goal, said Case in remarks to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In determining eligibility for federal subsidies, the navigators will have access to consumers’ tax records, and “that’s just ripe for ID theft,” he added.

On July 13, PIA filed comments with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Producer Licensing Task Force, recommending that strict standards be adopted governing healthcare navigators. “At this critical juncture in the healthcare market, now is not the time to gamble with consumer protections,” PIA noted in its remarks. “Agents and brokers have been relied on for generations because consumers trust them and value their sound advice. We therefore support approaches that continue to utilize the expertise of professional insurance agents.”

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