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The role of health insurance brokers may be more valuable today than ever. Brokers equipped with proper technology can be a big help to individuals and businesses, both before and after enrollment.

“The Affordable Care Act, along with a broader set of marketplace dynamics, will continue to change the nature of health insurance and necessitate not only expert enrollment assisters but technology that will empower them to provide valuable services to customers,” according to a new white paper from Limelight Health of Redwood City, California.

Even consumers who use an expert enrollment assistant as a resource during enrollment and advocate when something goes wrong can end up in financial trouble.

“Expert enrollment assisters, such as brokers, can help consumers navigate these issues of access, quality and cost past the point of enrollment,” the paper said. “However, though they are experts, they are not walking computers.

“They need to have the technology tools that will put this information at their fingertips so they can guide their owners through this post-reform world, particularly with the added complexity of assisting a population that may be selecting among both group and individual insurance options for themselves and their family members.”

The ante is even higher for small businesses.

“The choice of what insurance to purchase is complicated and very impactful for an individual,” the paper said. “But it is child’s play compared to the complexity of choices small businesses face.

“Needless to say, this is not a conversation that should happen on the back of an envelope. Brokers who work with small businesses have developed a range of tools to assist their clients with these choices. Having the tools to assess these new options is more essential than ever post-health care reform.”

As the report concludes, consumer and businesses have three options when choosing a health insurance plan:

  • Health plan representatives. “Representatives are ultimately employees of their own companies and are unlikely to fully and objectively present all of the options that are available from their competitors.”
  • Government employees.“The can only assist consumers in enrolling in marketplace plans and government programs; they are not permitted to even discuss the options available outside of public exchanges.”
  • Brokers. “Brokers will remain and essential resource for businesses and individuals looking to have access to the full range of options as well as an awareness of how these options compare to each other.”

In the brave new world of health care, a qualified broker with the right technology will always be a viable choice. “Expert, objective, technologically enabled enrollment assistance has become even more important in the post-health reform world,” the white paper concluded.