By Cyril Tuohy
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) has launched a new microsite to answer members' questions related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The microsite, found at www.naifa.org/advocacy/aca, includes a countdown to the number of days left until the health care exchanges open for business on Oct. 1 as well as a dollop of NAIFA's policy opinions on Obamacare.
NAIFA president-elect John F. Nichols said the microsite is designed to help members and their clients adapt to the coming changes by offering practical information, background material and an implementation timeline for the changes.
“Many NAIFA members and their clients are counting down to the Oct. 1 enrollment date and are facing a completely new healthcare landscape as the administration implements new elements of the law,” Nichols said in a blog posting.
Information available on the site covers health care affordability, age band rating, health benefits, guaranteed coverage, taxes, the individual mandate, medical loss ratios and Medicare Advantage, according to a review of the microsite.
The site helps position advisors as an educational resource for clients who will need health care advice beyond the initial registration period from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 for plans that take effect Jan. 1, 2014, NAIFA said.
Nichols said that because of the complexity of the health care system, consumers and other health care buyers benefit from the expertise and advice of agents and brokers. Agents “need to be involved, or customer service will surely be a casualty of health care reform,” Nichols also said.
One Southwest Missouri hospital system already has committed to referring patients to NAIFA members for advice, and the Tennessee Hospital Association is listing NAIFA members as a source of advice for consumers, Nichols also said.
Under the nation’s employer-based health care system, the majority of companies already offer health benefits to employees. Nearly all those companies – 98 percent – will continue to offer that benefit, according to a recent survey, so employees who are covered today likely won’t need to buy coverage on public or private exchanges.
But as businesses become more comfortable with health care reform, and with an excise tax set to kick in in 2018 for employers offering “Cadillac plans,” companies say they are going to review offering health benefits over the next few years.
"The ACA coverage expansion will be unsustainable unless policymakers and stakeholders take steps to establish meaningful reforms to reduce the costs of health care and insurance," reads the text on the microsite's front page.
Rising co-payments and deductibles under the employer-based system will also give employees more incentive to look to the exchanges for lower-priced coverage, which is where advisors can step in and offer guidance.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. He can be reached at [email protected].
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