What Agents Should Know About the Obamacare Debut

December 2, 2013

ObamacareThere are mixed emotions from just about everyone over the government’s new healthcare reform laws–the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And, why shouldn’t there be?

Nobody seems to have a clear answer on how ‘Obamacare’ will work, where the new Medicaid funding will come from long term, or what role agents will play.

To add to the confusion, the healthcare exchange website was inoperable for nearly two weeks and when it was functioning it was downright confusing.

Of course, we can’t say that only bad has come from Obamacare because it actually is helping millions of uninsured Americans secure health insurance coverage.

There will now be many formerly uninsurable citizens who will have access to health insurance plans. There will also be many people who once couldn’t afford health insurance who now qualify for Medicaid or receive a government subsidy, making health insurance affordable for them.

On the other end of the spectrum, thousands of people will be faced with skyrocketing health insurance bills and much higher deductibles.

Your job as an insurance agent is about to get much trickier in the age of Obamacare.

It’s open enrollment season in the world of health insurance and now is the time that people will have to make the decision as to whether they should purchase health insurance through the government marketplace or through a broker.

Let’s take a look at some of the Obamacare open enrollment facts.

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Obamacare Open Enrollment

The open enrollment period for Obamacare is October 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014. This means that anyone who is eligible can currently apply for an insurance plan through the healthcare marketplace. Those looking to apply through the government marketplace can do so at healthcare.gov.

Health insurance plans purchased through the healthcare exchange won’t begin until 2014. For a plan to start on January 1, 2014 it must be purchased by December 14, 2013.

Many of those who are currently uninsured will be able to snag a health insurance policy for very little money. Since 26 of the states are expanding their Medicaid eligibility many of the uninsured will now qualify for Medicaid.

Those whose incomes are 400 percent the poverty line will be eligible for a government subsidy to help them cover the cost of insurance. Those who do not purchase insurance will be required to pay a small fine on their 2014 income tax return.

Obamacare and Agents

There are currently health care navigators hired to help people sign up for insurance plans through the government marketplace. These navigators will help people better understand their health insurance options.

Depending on the state’s laws some agents and brokers may be able to help with the healthcare marketplace but at this point it’s really too early to tell how this will pan out.

The Effect of Obamacare

Whether you are for Obamacare or against it looks like it’s here to stay – well, for now at least.

While many people will now be eligible for health insurance plans through the healthcare exchange it’s likely that many of your clients may still be better off purchasing their insurance plans through you.

The smartest thing that you as an agent can do is adjust your marketing strategy and actively seek to stay up to date on all the latest news on Obamacare. Your current clients need clear explanations of what’s happening in the world of healthcare reform and how it will affect them.

The better you can explain these options the more likely you are to retain your current business.

Clients want to do business with people that they can trust. You can be that person. For more information on marketing in the age of the Affordable Care Act, be sure to download our new eBook, the Insurance Agent’s Complete Guide to Obamacare.

About Troy Wilson