California agents back Web firms

Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee (AP pphoto/Nick Ut) Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee (AP pphoto/Nick Ut)

The California Association of Health Underwriters wants its state’s public exchange to let “Web-based entities” help with enrollment.

Traditional brick-and-mortar agents in some states have opposed letting Web-based entities help with the sale of “qualified health plan” coverage. Those agents have argued that letting the Web-based entities help with QHP sales would make the damage the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is doing to agents even worse.

In California, however, the CAHU board has voted unanimously to ask the Covered California exchange board to allow use of Web-based entity technology.

“The current process requires too many steps,” CAHU said in a message it sent to the Covered California board.

Traditional agents should handle the sales, but the agents should be able to use the Web-based entities’ sites to help clients qualify for PPACA subsidies, shop for coverage, and choose plans, CAHU said.

A coalition that includes Consumers Union has called for the exchange to put off a decision about the proposal for at least two years.

The exchange is too busy with other priorities to analyze the enroller proposal properly, and an enroller site might display less QHP information in a way that would be unfair to some of the issuers, proposal opponents said.

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