We live in a made-to-order age. Whether it's a sandwich, a computer or a car, we expect whatever we choose to have all the features we want and none of the features we don't like.
What if a health care law could be made to order? What if agents and consumers alike could create their dream bill that had all the features they want without the parts they dislike? What would that look like?
HealthMarkets, one of the nation's largest independent health insurance agencies, wanted to know. So they sponsored a brand, #OurCare, developed a website, www.OurCareBill.org, and gave consumers and agents the opportunity to build their ideal health care bill. The site went live around Inauguration Day in January, and so far more than 2,100 people have gone to the site to build their own bill, said Mike Stahl, HealthMarkets senior vice president said. Of those who built their bill, about 460 are insurance agents and the rest are non-agents.
So what do agents want to see in a health care bill? And how do agents differ from the general population in what their ideal bill looks like? Stahl breaks it down for us.
Not surprisingly, agents do not want to see funding for navigators and assisters, with 99 percent of agents saying they want to see that funding eliminated. Agents unanimously declared that they want to eliminate funding for small business insurance exchanges as well.
Two areas in which agents and the general public were in agreement were keeping coverage for those with pre-existing conditions (100 percent of agents and 99 percent of the general public) and allowing the government to negotiate for Medicare prescription costs (95 percent of agents and 93 percent of the general public).
Relative to the general population, agents and brokers are less likely to require insurers to cover certain essential benefits, particularly mental health, pediatric and pregnancy/maternity/newborn. Agents and brokers are more likely than the general public to want enhancements to health savings accounts and to stop funding government exchanges. Agents look upon high-risk pools more favorably than does the general public. The agent community is less likely than the general public to favor seeing taxes support health care reform.
As a group, a majority of agents and brokers support income-based subsidies and want to keep a ban on lifetime coverage limits. They also support allowing young people to stay on their parents' policies until age 26 and want to keep the age-bands on premium charges at a maximum of 3-to-1.
Agent support for keeping coverage for those with pre-existing conditions was probably the biggest surprise revealed in the survey, Stahl said. He also was struck by the amount of both agent and non-agent support for cost-sharing subsidies.
Stahl said the survey was intended "to give a voice to those we impact every day."
"As a country, we are still talking in political one-liners instead of conducting a meaningful discussion on the details," he continued. "We wanted to give people an opportunity to go beyond all the shouting."
The survey results are being sent to Congress and President Donald Trump through traditional and social media, Stahl said.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at Susan.Rupe@innfeedback.com.
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