Since the October 1 launch of the health insurance exchanges, consumers across the country are relying on health insurance agents and brokers more than ever. The problem, however, is that agents and brokers are experiencing far more issues with Healthcare.gov than some consumers. Earlier this week, Janet Trautwein, CEO of the National Association of Health Underwriters, sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to take steps to address the back-end technical troubles tripping up brokers who are trying to enroll clients on the federal exchanges.
In the letter, we addressed eight technical fixes that need to be addressed immediately, including a link to a local help website on Healthcare.gov that would allow consumers to find an agent or broker in their area, establishing an immediate clear path for brokers to submit applications and help their clients directly beyond the website, the ability to edit a marketplace application and add an agent or broker’s NPN to the application.
The letter also urged the president to create a dedicated customer-support line for agents and brokers, routinely include agents and brokers as a local assistance option along with navigators and application counselors in all public communications, including speeches, advertising, the website and other means, and give enhanced priority to technology efforts that will allow both agents and individual consumers access to direct enrollment portals, both through health insurance issuers and through web-based brokers in all states.
NAHU isn’t just talking to the White House about agent issues. We have been in daily communication with HHS and CMS since the launch of the exchanges, informing and urging them to make essential, immediate fixes to Healthcare.gov’s functionality. Senate Democrats are also starting to take note of the agent and broker issues in the exchanges. As you may remember, last week, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to Secretary Sebelius urging her and her agency to fix Healthcare.gov website woes so that agents and brokers can assist consumers in choosing a health plan. The media is focusing on our issues too; since October 1, NAHU has received over 3,650 press hits, including in top-tier publications and broadcast news media outlets like Fox News, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Los-Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News among many others.