What you do matters. Employers, and most certainly their employees, need you. Consumers' lack of knowledge not only about health care reform but also how the health care system works in general is sobering, if not unsurprising.
Although advisers have been preaching the benefits of consumer-driven health care for many years now, employees are anything but choir-like in their response.
As Brian Kalish explains via Aflac's annual WorkForces Report in "The CDHC Challenge," 72% of the working population has not even heard of the concept of consumer-driven health care. The proactive adviser knows this lack of knowledge provides an opportunity to educate plan sponsors and participants on the cost-saving benefits of CDHC.
But don't expect it to be an easy sale. Aflac also found that the majority of consumers (54%) don't want more control of their insurance options. Even so, the main reason for this is not apathy or disinterest, it is simply that they don't think they have the time or knowledge level needed to manage it effectively.
This brings me to health insurance exchanges - a consumer-driven force in their own right. As with CDHCs, research by Accenture surveying 2,000 Americans shows the vast majority of respondents (83%) were also completely unfamiliar with the concept of a private health insurance exchange. At the same time, Mercer research indicates 56% of employers are considering implementing one.
I'll say it again: Employers and their employees need you - now more than ever.
This is why I continue to find the navigator provision of health care reform to be confusing. As you know, in July the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule on the stance they've held for a while now: that brokers are welcome to be navigators for the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges, they just can't be compensated by an insurance company. Oh yeah, or provide any advice as to which plan a consumer should actually choose.
Perhaps the Obama administration will take some time to rethink and delay that provision of the ACA as well.
After all, seems like many brokers could use the time to brush up on their own knowledge of health reform. The National Association of Health Underwriters' newest president, Tom Harte of New Hampshire-based Landmark Benefits, points out to Gillian Roberts in "Changing of the guards," that less than 1% of brokers are certified for health care reform. Less than one percent. Sure, that's just through NAHU's program, but it seems employees are not the only ones experiencing a knowledge gap.
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