Brokers’ expertise has allowed them to provide a voice of reason and advice through the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But as the law continues to take effect, brokers are starting to see more direct benefits.
The perception of how the law affects brokers is starting to change, writes Melissa Winn for Employee Benefit Adviser. “Just a couple of years ago, the mere mention of the Affordable Care Act could stir brokers’ fears and sometimes even panic about the future role of the benefit adviser in this new marketplace,” she writes. “A few years into the ACA’s implementation, however, brokers are beginning to see opportunities … and successful brokers are embracing them.”
A majority of brokers surveyed through the 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report (AWR) survey are confident in the future of both their firms and the industry, Winn writes. “The uptick in confidence is noteworthy, the study says, as it reflects a 12 percent increase over the 2014 AWR results and a 14 percent increase over the 2013 AWR survey,” Winn writes.
More than half of benefits brokers recently surveyed believe changes in the law have helped their sales, as well, according to an Eastbridge survey. “Nearly one-quarter (say) the impact has been ‘very positive,’” according to Eastbridge’s Voluntary Benefits in an ACA World report. “This is in comparison to only about one-third of the carriers.”
One growing opportunity: state-based insurance exchanges.
“Managers of most of the state-based Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchanges that are still state-run have done what they could to reach out to brokers,” writes Allison Bell for benefitspro.com. Maryland is piloting a system that would have exchange operators take callers through the PPACA screening process, then transfer the caller to an authorized broker for enrollment. “The exchange will focus on working with brokers who understand the exchange program well and have offices close enough to the Maryland Health Connection for exchange workers to go to the brokers’ officers to help resolve computer problems,” Bell writes.
Brokers are also starting to see returns on offering comprehensive benefit packages that help fill gaps created by the ACA, Winn writes. “Nearly six in 10 brokers (58 percent) report they plan to increase the amount of revenue from voluntary benefits at their firms over the next 12 months,” she writes, adding that this represents a 9 percent increase from 2014. It’s a 14 percent increase from 2013.
“If you’re a broker who is really thinking about how you ought to put your benefits together and really thinking about what your employer groups are facing, there’s lots of opportunity in the market,” she writes.