New HHS Rules Define Producer Role in Health Exchange

Health-exchange regulations finalized by the Obama administration March 12 envision allowing agents, brokers and private companies to sell coverage on the exchange to individuals and employers through privately run Web sites.

A report issued by Beth Mantz-Steindecker, John J. Leppard and Ira S. Loss of Washington Analysis, a Washington think tank for buy-side security analysts and brokers, says the rules provide great flexibility to the states to carve out a key role for agents and brokers.

They add it is unlikely that private companies will be permitted to assess consumer eligibility for premium subsidies, cost-sharing arrangements or other affordability programs.

The analysts say that with Republicans currently in control of the majority of state governments—and with most Democratic-controlled states placing an emphasis on initial insurer participation rather than restrictive control—“we think that this rule sets the framework for more market-driven exchanges than some have feared.”

The analysts’ comments were supported by officials of the National Association of Insurance and Investment Advisors.

Officials of the National Association of Health Underwriters, whose members will be most directly affected by the exchanges, say they are still evaluating the rules for their impact on its members.

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