With health care reform on the horizon, the role of the insurance broker is likely to change along with the shifting environment of the health system. Federally mandated health insurance exchanges are going to play a bigger part in people’s search for coverage. The exchanges will, essentially, give consumers the ability to find their own health care policies and purchase these policies electronically. While this will be a popular trend amongst the average consumer, it may also be one that health care professional’s follow, which puts brokers and agents on uncertain ground.
According to the federal Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to spend at least 80% of the money the collect from premiums on medical care. Broker fees are not included in this percentage, meaning that insurers will have to dig deeper into their own profits to continue paying commissions. While this law can still be changed, many insurance companies are operating under the assumption that it will not, leading some to abolish commissions altogether.
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A report from the Government Accountability Office notes that many of the nation’s insurers are poised to decrease commissions to brokers as a whole. The Department of Health and Human Services has been keen to note that efforts will be taken to ensure that agents and brokers still have a place in the new health care system, but it may be quite different than what many are used to, as most will have to make way for health insurance exchanges.