With states making moves toward establishing health insurance exchanges, the role of agents has been a subject of debate – specifically whether they will still be necessary. In New York, new legislation has been introduced that will protect the role of insurance agents and brokers. The state is one of the leaders in pioneering insurance exchanges, but has not forgotten the importance of independent insurance agents. The bill guarantees that agents will continue to play their part parallel to the state’s exchange program.
The bill was introduced by Senators James Seward and Kemp Hannon late last week. It is the first proposals concerning the establishment of the state’s health insurance exchange program. The bill determines that the program will be regulated by an 11-member board comprised of insurance professionals with varying degrees of expertise.
Agents and brokers are named specifically as being able to act on behalf of individuals and businesses looking to obtain coverage through the system. Furthermore, agents will be among those eligible to serve as advisors and councilors in the various committees formed to supplement the exchange program.
In accordance with federal mandate, each state must have an established, sustainable and fully-functional insurance exchange by 2014. Each state has the opportunity to determine exactly how the exchange will operate and by whom it will be regulated. Legislators can elect to form a group comprised of lawmakers, opt for third-part regulators or defer control to the federal government.