As part of the health care reform law, the government implemented a high risk pool called Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, or known as PCIP. It was created for those who currently cannot be approved for standard health insurance. This could mean declined from coverage, a major health issue such as cancer, or the carrier excludes conditions that normally would be covered if you did not already have it.
The program was having problems with their enrollment numbers up to May of 2011. This is when they called upon the agents to assist with the enrollment by offering a referral fee. After a dramatic push by the agents and exceeding expectations, PCIP decided to discontinue the referral program for the insurance agents. Like a bad blind date, after PCIP got what they wanted, they left the agents high and dry.
This is the power and expertise that insurance agents bring to the table. The PCIP knew this and took advantage of the agents and then cut it off. Some of the health insurance agents feel they will do the same once healthcare reform is fully implemented in 2014. This will leave the agents, again, high and dry. One agent has said, "You laugh, health insurance agents had to cut back to Ramen noodles to feed their families and insurance companies are wining and dining on Wall Street. Not so fast for the politicians, they get bonus points, if you will, for reelection by going with the job killing program." Pretty emotional statement, I must say. Many other agents feel the same way.
The PCIP was put in the healthcare reform bill in 2010. After struggling to get the program off the ground, they reached out to health insurance agents to achieve their enrollment goals. By the end of 2011, they reached a total enrollment of 48,879. This is more than double of the enrollments from the year prior with no incentive program for the health insurance agents. Thanks to the hard work from the health insurance agents, the PCIP program no longer needs their support.
The big question is, Do health insurance agents stand a chance against political power and the insurance companies beyond 2014? The industry may move to non-experienced order takers. Like a group of people willing to take minimum wage and health benefits. All of us may be going to McDonald's(R) or Burger King (R) to pick up a health insurance plan. Some of the industry experts may possibly move to a consultative business model and charge a fee for their services and expertise. It may add an additional cost to the employers, however, they know they will be getting the industries best advice based on their company's needs and wants.