While the health insurance industry is awash in a sea of uncertainty, small-group brokers and advisers are wise to follow this mantra heading into 2017: stay the course.
Regardless of where the waves of potential change surge, the small-group market is robust and offers more opportunity than ever before. Those who keep their heads up and focused on doing what they do well are optimally positioned for success going forward.
These days, sticking with what’s working now is easier said than done. As a result of the presidential election, many questions loom regarding the future of health insurance, especially around the Affordable Care Act. As the new administration takes office, ACA provisions face the potential for refinement, modification and/or replacement. Ultimately, this could change how health insurance works for the 156 million Americans who, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, receive benefits through the workplace.
Beyond legislative and policy uncertainties, the marketplace is experiencing its own significant ebbs and flows. For example, the past six months have seen tremendous movement by carriers as they work to find a path for success in a post-ACA world. Some have decided to narrow their public and/or private exchange presence in 2017, while others have looked to maintain or even expand their participation.
Also see: “Benefit pros on the move.”
With so much volatility, uncertainty and the constant barrage of news articles about the future of ACA, even the most talented experts can become distracted. But those who resolve to stay focused on what they do best today will likely find themselves in good standing for years to come no matter what the future holds for insurance and the U.S. healthcare system.
Why? Irrespective of what changes have or will occur, one thing is certain: licensed agents are more essential than ever. This holds particularly true for the small-group market. In fact, the need for these professionals is actually accelerating in depth and breadth precisely because of so much industry turbulence.
A main driver of this is the critical function that brokers and advisers play in helping clients navigate the industry and available options in the first place. They are already adept at guiding clients through the byzantine world of health insurance, and with so much going on today — and tomorrow — that role will only become more important.
Many already recognize that their role has moved beyond just simply enrolling people in coverage. Small employers and individuals will continue to need additional support when it comes to understanding the intricacies of health insurance regulations and available options before making a decision. Translation of this into practical, simple-to-understand language is where a guide, specialist, advocate and problem solver thrives.
Add public and private exchanges, marketplaces and more into the mix and the value of the adviser skyrockets. They play a distinctive role in determining platform and plan advantages, providing employers and individuals with the information and insights needed to make the best choices. Also equally key is the high-touch support they provide throughout the year to ensure clients and their employees know how to best access and use benefits.
Change is the one constant health insurance professionals can count on, especially in these choppy and uncertain times. Skilled brokers who continue to stay on course with what works today are likely to find success in the future, no matter where industry tides flow.
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