Obamacare represents one the biggest changes to American health insurance for individuals, employers, agents, and healthcare providers. For many health insurance agents, however, the journey has felt like an uphill battle. Commissions structures have dwindled, employers are canceling group policies, and the Health Insurance Marketplaces haven’t carved out a clear-cut role for agents.
So, what is the fate of health insurance agents in the new Obamacare landscape? Here are four ways health insurance agents can - and are - surviving post-Obamacare.
1. Optimize Policy Sales During Open Enrollment
In the new health insurance landscape agents still have a primary role of policy sales. However, the business plan looks a little different.
One major area of opportunity is individual policy sales - especially during the annual Obamacare open enrollment period.
During open enrollment, savvy agents are prospecting individuals as well as small groups who don’t currently offer health insurance. Individuals and small businesses say they want assistance from advisors, opening up opportunities for individual policy sales on and off the Marketplace.
With the number of individuals purchasing coverage on their own at an all-time high, the market opportunity is vast.
A recent report found that 11.7 million enrolled in an Obamacare health plan this last open enrollment period, an increase of 3.7 million from a year ago.
2. Leverage Policy Sales Outside of Open Enrollment
Outside of open enrollment there is opportunity for individual policy sales, as well.
Many small businesses will be canceling their group health insurance policies this year due to cost escalations. When employees lose their group health insurance coverage, they are eligible to enroll in guaranteed-issue individual coverage through a special enrollment period.
As their agent, you can transition employees to individual policies. If the business wants to continue to contribute to employees’ healthcare, you can help the small business set up a “pure” defined contribution health plan.
This approach helps agents retain clients canceling group and prospect new clients who need an alternative health insurance solution.
And, experts say this is not a passing fad. It’s estimated that 90% of companies will transition to individual policies by 2020. Positioned correctly, agents will profit by helping companies make this transition.
3. Help Employers Navigate Obamacare
Another opportunity to thrive under Obamacare is to become a trusted and knowledgeable consultant. From the Employer Shared Responsibility Fee to new health plan requirements, agents are emerging as a go-to advisor for all-things health reform. As such, charge your clients for your expertise.
Becoming a health reform consultant generates additional revenue. And, it reinforces your role as a trusted advisor leading to referrals from happy clients.
4. Offer Alternative Solutions
Group-based major medical policies have been the bread and butter for many health insurance agents, but the fate of this business model is uncertain. To survive Obamacare, agents need to diversify and offer alternative solutions.
To attract, sell, and keep existing clients, offer a variety of solutions that fit their budget and health insurance goals including group, individual, voluntary, defined contribution, account-based health plans, and private exchanges.
The future of health insurance agents under Obamacare seems uncertain, but given the right business plan and products there is big opportunity to sustain and grow your business.
If you’re a health insurance agent, what do you think the future holds? Leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you.