Most private health care exchanges are geared toward active employees. But Tampa, Fla.-based Brown Insurance Group has an eye on part-timers who may have lost coverage or who never had access to group plans. Eric Brown, principal, explains how his private exchange allows employers nationwide to provide coverage to such employees through an exchange-like environment. Brown Insurance also assists with Healthcare.gov enrollment.
What is the structure of your exchange? What makes it different?
We do on- and off-exchange enrollments, and we call ourselves an enrollment agency. We go into mainly employers with subsidy eligible employees and we get them enrolled into affordable plans just like you would a group enrollment.
One thing that is unique about our site, we will place the employers name on the portal. What makes us different is we have more choices than any of the individual market private exchanges that Ive seen in addition to major medical. We also offer life insurance, short-term medical; we also have a guarantee issue short-term medical plan. We offer Medicare, a whole array of voluntary benefits, such as accident, critical illness, hospital indemnity, legal, pet insurance and international health insurance. We cover all 50 states.
How do you recruit clients?
We do it several ways, such as traditional marketing. I do speaking engagements. We get on the phone and call people. We use social media. We use Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. We have a business page on Facebook, so we will keep folks abreast of what is going on in the industry. For example, we posted an Employee Benefit Adviser article on higher satisfaction rates for folks who enroll through private exchanges versus group plans. In addition to providing clients information, we also keep them educated. Thats the type of information we post on our social media. We ask folks to go there and enjoy experience working with us. Thats how we market.
What is your relationship with brokers?
Its a great relationship. Another unique thing, our clients are employers, agents, brokers and affiliates. Our portal offers brokers an opportunity to go there and build a down line so they can use our portal to sell the products and also attract more agents to work under them and sell the products and services.
Why did you launch?
We really wanted to make a difference. As you know, you see large employers such as Home Depot, Target, Trader Joes ending coverage for their part-timers. They are sending them to find their own coverage, and most of them have never bought insurance before. Insurance is complicated. We go to that employer and say, Let us handle that for you; we will hold your employees hand. We make them to feel comfortable. Our site is fast and convenient. It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish in a subsidy-eligible plan.
Where do you see private HIXs fitting into health care moving forward?
They provide a better shopping experience. I really believe that is the future. About a year ago, I heard of this bill sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany, who is also a doctor from Louisiana. He has a bipartisan bill that was sitting in Congress. The bill, if passed, was going to revive self-funding arrangements which would allow employers to reimburse their employees for individual health insurance premiums tax-free on both sides. I believe in the future that will happen. When that happens, you will see a mass exodus of employers dropping group health insurance and sending their employers to a private exchange. Even if that bill does not get passed, it will be five to 10 years, but it will happen.
Editors note: This story is part of a continuing series of one-on-one interviews with private exchange leaders and top decision-makers across the U.S. Know of an exchange expert who should be profiled? Email Brian.Kalish@sourcemedia.com.
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