Brokers up their duties as employer mandate takes effect

Insurance brokers help employers comply with complexities of ACA, avoid penalties

Now that the employer mandate is in effect, brokers have upped their role in providing health insurance guidance to employers.

"We have explored all insured options that comply with the law; fully insured options and self-insured options alike. We've also helped [employers] to calculate the penalties if they do not meet the requirements," Nicholas Moriello, president and CEO of Newark, Delaware-based Health Insurance Associates, told Employee Benefit Adviser.

To prepare for the employer mandate, brokers required training and education for employer clients, as to gain full knowledge of the Affordable Care Act and to answer any questions clients may have, Desmond Slattery, area executive vice president of New Jersey's Association of Health Underwriters, told EBA.

The ACA's components and provisions equals a workload that is comparable to "a train that never stops moving," Ben Lupin, a senior regulatory adviser with Towers Watson, told EBA.

It's important, Lupin noted, to tackle the ACA as a sort of ongoing maintenance issue every year.

Brokers need to be sure their clients' coverage continues to meet ACA requirements in order to avoid penalties, which are calculated on a monthly basis. Most notably, brokers must ensure employers meet the minimum value test and affordability test.

Recently, brokers' relevance in the industry has been up for debate: On one side, it's possible that the Small Business Health Options Program insurance exchanges were meant to replace brokers; on the other hand, brokers may be essential to exchanges, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Case in point: Last year, 39 percent of insurance exchange enrollees in California signed up using a broker, while 44 percent in Kentucky did the same.

For more:
- here's the EBA article

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