The Texas Association of Health Underwriters recently summed up, in one word, what has resulted since the rollout of the federal exchanges: Confusion. And as a recent report from ABC News reveals, the government was bewildered by all the things that went wrong in the immediate hours and days following the Oct. 1 launch as well.
ABC News collected more than 175 pages of internal memos from the White House, which were originally retrieved by the House Oversight Committee. The documents detailed that as soon as HealthCare.gov went live, technical problems were rampant, evidenced by plans not showing up on the website, error messages clicking from one page to the next, inaccurate prices being listed under coverage details and thousands of people being kicked off the site completely.
Additionally, only a handful of people were able to successfully enroll on the first day. Multiple media reports indicated that a mere six individuals were able to sign up for a health plan on Oct. 1.
Opportunity knocks for insurance professionals
Mark Bellman, president of the TAHU, indicated that one only has to look at the polls to see just how frustrated consumers have become with the marketplaces. However, while no one wants insurance customers to be confused when dealing with coverage issues, their bewilderment serves as an opening for insurance agents.
"The good news is many consumers are reaching out to a professional benefit advisor to get answers and avoiding making costly mistakes with their choices," said Bellman.
Karl Schilling, a health leads agent and contributor to insurance news website ProducersWEB, stated that there have been few moments in the industry's history that are more favorable for insurance prospecting than the one currently in place.
"Conversations about the PPACA are not difficult to start up," said Schilling. "No one is offended, as they really have no clue as to what the intended or unintended consequences are for their family."
Quality advice brings loyal client base
Schilling said that by serving as an advocate, agents have the opportunity to turn more leads into loyal clients than ever before. Consumers are desperate for greater clarity regarding the health care exchanges. By acknowledging that they are confusing, and offering solutions for what they can do, customers will come to trust agents' judgment.
However, this requires a thorough understanding of the exchanges themselves. The Internet is a treasure trove of information, and insurance professionals can separate the myths from facts by utilizing multiple channels, such as national news outlets, state-based exchanges and fact-checking websites.