From actual call center data glitches to hard-to-define input, brokers across the country on both the state and federal exchanges expect to be shorted for their work enrolling participants during the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period.

On AccessHealth CT, Connecticut’s state-run exchange, the broker community is attached to 35%-40% of all enrollments in the state so far, according to Chris Mele, broker marketing and sales manager for the organization. AccessHealth CT is unique in that it opened two storefront locations staffed with both navigators and brokers at all times. Mele observed firsthand the tremendous amount of work done by the brokers who staffed the store.

“Broker sales are so hard to quantify, because a lot of times a broker is working on an application with someone and a broker maybe did 85% of the work and it’s then finished with the call center or with navigators,” Mele recounts. “Brokers in the store did a lot of assistance with Medicaid, and that’s a little under-mentioned,” since brokers don’t receive compensation for Medicaid enrollments.

He has received calls from several brokers worried that their producer number isn’t getting transferred to the carriers for compensation. “I assured brokers that the data is going over,” Mele says. “It’s more of how to get it synced with their commissions.” He doesn’t think that any carriers in his state have yet to provide broker commissions, something that’s new for small- and large-group benefit advisers who are accustomed to monthly allotments.

In Greenville, S.C., insurance broker Guy Furay made an irritating realization last week about not getting credit for work done enrolling on the federal exchange. “Somehow, one insurance company told me I had sold zero policies, but I really had sold 50 policies for that one in particular,” says the president of The Insurance Source. “I’m having to recreate my schedule and prove that I was the agent of record and try to get reinstated.” For all of October and most of November he was submitting paper applications and using the call center to enroll the many customers who came through his door each day.

Proving the relationship

Furay says the call center was his most-used medium, and that’s where he thinks the disconnect occurred. “I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but carriers are showing full client profiles I know I enrolled and not showing me” attached to them, he says. “I’m convinced someone removed me.” A spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was unable to provide comment at this time.

Furay adds that at least several times a call center operator said — while he was on the phone and advising his customer — “You don’t need to talk to a broker, I’m helping you.” A line that Kelly Fristoe, a broker in Wichita Falls, Texas-based Financial Partners told EBA he also heard back in November.

Ronnell Nolan, an agent in Baton Rouge, La., and president and CEO of the new agent lobbying group Health Agents for America, says this issue is only just beginning to brew. “It may be a month before we know of any horror stories regarding commissions,” she says. “Insurance companies will begin to pay for Jan 1. effective date cases at the end of February. Of course, agents are being paid much less than before and they are working a lot harder, but they want to survive.”

Nolan says she thought this sort of thing might happen, so she drew up a “marketplace checklist” for her agents to sign, and have their consumers enrolling on the exchange sign to prove their relationship.

For South Carolina’s Furay, he says he’ll salvage most of his work by taking his case to the individual insurance companies and showing his calendar of appointments with names and evidence of contact information for clients where his producer number was missing. However, he will probably lose about two dozen commissions from walk-in clients that weren’t recorded on his schedule but were definitely submitted to the exchange.

AccessHealth CT’s Mele thinks things will improve soon. “It’s not the brokers’ fault, they didn’t miss anything,” he says. “The people that work at the carriers and the customer service centers are very new to this, too.”

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