California insurance agents are having trouble adapting to health care reform

California health insurance

California insurance exchange creates some problems for agents

California nsurance health exchangeSome insurance agents in California are encountering problems with the state’s insurance exchange, Covered California, as they begin to clash with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The law allows consumers to keep their medical information private, giving them the option to divulge this information under certain circumstances. In the past, agents were able to obtain medical information from their clients with relative easy. Now, however, this information is becoming more difficult to acquire, which is having a negative impact on the underwriting process.

HIPAA provisions make it difficult to obtain important information

One of the reasons that obtaining medical information regarding clients is becoming more difficult is because HIPAA provisions require those seeking such information to be registered as “authorized representatives.” This status requires the filing of paperwork that is quite time consuming to file. Without being considered an authorized representative, insurance agents have limited access to a client’s important medical information, which could affect what policies are available to these clients.

Exchanges are making agents seem less necessary

Under the Affordable Care Act, consumers do not have to provide medical information when applying for coverage through state-based insurance exchanges. Agents are finding it necessarily to consider how much they want to be involved in these exchanges and whether or not their effort is worthwhile. Because exchanges streamline the insurance application process to some degree, the necessity of insurance agents is being called into question. Many people are opting to rely entirely on exchanges rather than work with agents.

Agents are more than salespeople

Agents do not only exist to sell insurance policies to consumers, of course. Agents serve as a sort of liaison between and insurance company and consumer. These people can be instrumental in the claims process and can ensure that their clients find the best policies that are suited for certain medical conditions. While agents in California are encountering problems with the state’s insurance exchange, they are expected to continue adapting to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act as they become more comfortable with the law itself.

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