In a room of at least 50 benefit brokers and agents, about three-quarters raised their hands when asked if they had enrolled a consumer or small business on the Affordable Care Act public health insurance exchanges. Speaking Monday at the National Association of Health Underwriters annual convention in Scottsdale, Ariz., Julie L. Hulsey, a partner at Insurance Professionals and Zynia Business Solutions in Amarillo, Texas, provided tips for brokers choosing this path to better protect their agency from liabilities, and also increase business.

See related: What’s your ACA enrollment advertising strategy?

Hulsey recommends brokers have consumers who they enroll on the exchanges fill out two different forms to protect their brokerages: a subsidy disclaimer and a HIPAA consent form.

A subsidy disclaimer is a document a consumer would sign acknowledging they’re aware the broker is “not responsible for anything to do with the subsidies,” she said. For example, there could be an instance where a person’s income changes in a given year and when they file their taxes, the Internal Revenue Service takes a previously awarded subsidy away from them in the form of owing money on their tax return.

“Because what’s going to happen when these individuals … have something from the IRS saying they don’t get their tax refund?” Hulsey asked the group. “They’re coming to see you,” she answered.

For the HIPAA consent form, Hulsey explains this is necessary as consumers may share health information with a broker while filling out their insurance forms for the exchanges; it’s also a good protection even if the consumers type the health information themselves into a computer at your brokerage facility.

“We’re in a sue-happy world these days,” she explained, “and I think it’s important we do anything to protect our business.”

More traction

Hulsey suggests that if you want more people coming to your brokerage to enroll in the exchanges, you need to advertise. One way to do that is to put a sign, as simple as one that sticks into the grass in front of your building. She says her brokerage did this and chose one that read “health insurance open enrollment.” As EBA has previously reported, this has been a successful tactic to garner foot traffic from consumers who know they need to comply with the individual mandate. Will Heavin, a broker in Corpus Christi, Texas, also used a similar sign tactic and made sure to include the word Obamcare on it as a way to grab consumers’ attention with a term they’re familiar with.

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Hulsey also recommended brokers contact their local television stations not only to advertise their brokerage to consumers looking to enroll on the public exchanges in 2015, but to provide a service to the public in educating about the open enrollment dates and the need to comply with the individual mandate.

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