The people may continue to think the president’s signature legislation has its problems, but at least two brokers working on enrollment have mostly moved past the rocky rollout and are finding relatively few problems with the public health insurance exchanges.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been tracking public opinion of the Affordable Care Act since its passage in March 2010, released a January poll Thursday morning showing 50% of Americans view the law as “unfavorable” — up from 49% in November and 48% in December. Thirty-four percent of Americans in the January survey have a “favorable” view of the ACA.

“Opinion stands at about the same place it was in October of 2011 during the Republican presidential primary debates,” the report states.

‘Saturdays and Sundays’

Meanwhile, for brokers working to enroll consumers on the exchanges, the hindrances that caused negative sentiment in the early days of exchange launch seem to be over.

“We have mostly had success doing [enrollment] online and have not had to resort to using the call center. The problems that we have encountered are not your normal everyday type of situations,” says Kelly Fristoe, broker at Financial Partners in Wichita Falls, Texas, of the time period after Nov. 27 when he was first able to complete an application on the federally facilitated marketplace website. He says the only problems he has are very detailed and specific ones — like a married couple, where one person is of Native American descent, not qualifying for a subsidy like they should be guaranteed under the ACA.

Fristoe estimates he’s enrolled more than 100 people in private health insurance plans via the website, not counting the call center enrollments he conducted when the site was faulty. “We’re rockin and rollin and signing up people every day, even on Saturdays and Sundays,” Fristoe said in an email.

On Connecticut’s state-based exchange, Jennifer Lovett is also having considerable success. “Our agency has done more than 500 enrollments and it’s been a mixture with Medicaid,” says the president and CEO of Crystal Financial Insurance Services in Hartford, Conn., who was also a broker certification instructor on AccessHealthCT (the state’s name for its exchange). “To me, this was a slam dunk and it’s just such a good feeling when you can have people come in here [with pre-existing conditions or no insurance] and have something I can give them.”

Lovett says her business was always based on helping people who have a difficult time obtaining insurance, so she and her other two producers were eager and ready to start work in the state’s two storefront exchange locations. “It just spread like wildfire,” she says.


But while the exchanges are functioning and allowing brokers to do their job of enrolling people in insurance policies, the broker industry might still not be completely sold on the concept law. After watching President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, Tinker Kelly, EBA board member and president of VEBA in Nashville, questioned the “sales pitch to leave it alone and let it work.”

He says: “Using examples of the individuals that have been successfully assisted by the ACA was good theater, but it didn't address a fundamental concern of ACA. The Affordable Care Act didn't deliver affordable health insurance coverage for the American people.”

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