Brokers try to focus less on employer, more on individual

As companies shift employees to ACA exchanges, brokers rethink how to appeal to the consumer

With the possibility of more employers shifting their employees onto the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges, health insurance brokers are now shifting their focus from the employer to the individual.

In order for employers to avoid the backlash of rising healthcare costs, it's been predicted that 75 percent will drop company health plans by 2025, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal. It's possible that nearly 150 million Americans will gain coverage through ACA exchanges as a result.

"This was a known outcome of the Affordable Care Act," Mark Minner, an adviser with FirstPerson Advisors, told the Indianapolis Business Journal. "It was designed to really support the individual."

Around the industry, brokers do what they can to assist the individual. For example, brokerage and employee benefits firm Nefouse & Associates turns its attention to consumers who may be confused by health insurance jargon and options. Specifically, the firm focuses on small businesses most likely to drop employee coverage, according to the article.

As Nefouse expects more small-business owners to drop group coverage, the firm will appeal to the consumer in a user-friendly manner by easing the transition onto the exchanges for both companies and their employees.

"We're looking at investing more time to take care of seven employees on individual plans [versus] one group plan," the firm said, according to the article. "We use side-by-side comparisons to explain the benefits of keeping a group plan and the benefits of moving to the marketplace to see if they can get a better deal."

For Nefouse--and other brokers around the industry--employers moving their employees onto the exchanges will create new demand for brokers. 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.

For more:
- here's the Indianapolis Business Journal article

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