Brokers remain under tremendous pressure as the entire industryundergoes sweeping and, in many cases, unsettling transition.Provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act areforcing brokers to hunker down and seriously reevaluate theirbusiness models—from an operational and, even more fundamentally,value proposition standpoint.

The new legislation poses a direct threat to thecommission-based compensation models on which the majority ofagents and brokers have built their businesses. Many believe thiswill prompt an industry-wide shift toward a fee-based broker model.While businesses are always looking to streamline processes andreduce overhead, fee-based models force brokers to probe moredeeply into every aspect of their enterprise, from administrativeoverhead to marketing and communications expenditures in order toestablish and maintain viable profit margins.

 Beyond day-to-day operations, brokers also mustconsider the looming threat posed by the health care exchanges,which will go online in 2014. These benefit marketplaces aredesigned to provide a more “consumer-friendly,” transparentexperience for customers/employees, who in the past relied on theiremployer's human resources department—supported and supplemented bybrokers—to sort through their benefit options.  

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