Can I really get free help? Insurance inside and outside the Exchange can be purchased with the help of an insurance agent. Those applying for government subsidies will buy Exchange plans, but there are still many options worth considering among the plans and consumers are wise not to go it alone. Insurance agents are licensed and experienced to offer assistance understanding plans and choosing the best fit for you, your family, or your business. Navigators, by law, may only assist in filling out forms. Insurance agents who have completed the certification process can help with subsidies (advance premium tax credits) and cost saving programs, all at no additional cost to you, the consumer.
Can an agent get information like the Exchange has? Many people are surprised when we explain that the concept of the “Healthcare Marketplace” or Exchange, which is marketed by the Healthcare Reform law, is actually a tool that sophisticated independent agents have used for years. The Exchange describes the process of entering customized client information into a website and then reviewing a list of applicable health plans that can be compared side-by-side. In this way, our agents can help consumers compare coverage, costs, doctor and hospital networks and deductible amounts. The websites that agents use have worked for years and an agent can guide you through an on-line application, as well. In addition, applying through our website allows us to follow up on your application with the insurance carrier and assist in clearing up any enrollment issues.
As of this writing, those applying for government premium assistance must still wait for the government’s website to begin working in order to access an official certificate of advance premium tax credits (subsidies); however, agents can already access the same system that the government uses to provide estimated tax credit amounts and give you all of your options On and Off the Exchange.
What kind of help can I expect?
An agent who is licensed, insured and a marketplace certified agent can give you all of your options and help you decide what is best for you and why. You can expect help with:
- · Information about Exchange policies On the Healthcare Marketplace as well as policies offered in the private market. You will know how to apply any advance premium tax credits or cost reduction programs and how to select to which plan to apply the subsidies.
- · Comparisons between the plans offered by all major health insurance companies that offer insurance in your area. An independent agent is not restricted to plans offered by just one carrier. (Agents that sell only one company’s plans are called “captive agents”).
- · Information about doctor and hospital networks for each plan.
- · Assistance in completing insurance policy and subsidy applications, including on-line versions.
- · Follow-up assistance to clear up enrollment issues and, later, assist with the claims process once you become covered.
- · Experienced advice to help you decide the best plan for you or your family. This is a service to the consumer that government Navigators are prohibited by law to perform.
Remember, selecting your plan with an independent agent results in no additional costs to you. In fact, because you are using the advantage of expertise, you may save more money. Just be sure that the agent you use is in fact certified and experienced with the many provisions and regulations of the ACA (Affordable Care Act).
Have More Questions? We invite you to Comment or call us with your healthcare reform questions.