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Insurance brokers » Brokers may not be familiar with the ins and outs of Medicaid, but they know health insurance.
Trib Talk » Affordable Care Act
and small businessOpen enrollment on the federal health insurance exchanges begins Tuesday and that means not only new plan options for individuals but new requirements for small employers. Who has to comply with the new law? And what does the Affordable Care Act require small business owners to do?
On Tuesday at 12:15 p.m., Trib Talk’s Jennifer Napier-Pearce talks about how the act will affect small businesses with Patty Conner, director of the state-run health exchange for business called Avenue H; Dan Schuyler of Leavitt Partners, a health care consulting firm; and Aaron Call of G&A Partners, a human resource consulting firm.
You can join the discussion by sending questions or comment to the hashtag #TribTalk on Twitter and Google+ as well as in the comment section in the story below. The live chat video will appear at the top of this page a few minutes before the chat begins.
More at sltrib.com
Utahns get their first peek at the cost of plans sold in the federally run exchange for individuals and families.
"Navigators can only help you fill out an application. A certified insurance agent can recommend and discuss plans," said Justin Peterson, an agent with Laub Insurance Agency.
Brokers are familiar with Utah’s hospital networks and insurance company track records, said Peterson.
They can help consumers anticipate their health costs, based on prior spending, and find coverage matched to their budgets and specific health needs, he said. "Those are the kinds of questions we deal with on a daily basis."
Some work for insurance carriers and have financial incentives to steer consumers to that carrier.
But many brokers are certified to sell all plans on the exchange, said Peterson. Commissions are built into the premiums shoppers pay, whether they use a broker or not, he said.
Find a certified broker near you at bit.ly/brokerfind.
Call centers » Operators are already answering questions about health reform on the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-318-2596.
By Tuesday, about 9,000 help desk agents will be answering questions about the Affordable Care Act in English, Spanish and about 150 other languages. Roughly 2,000 of those employees will be based at call centers in Utah, one in Layton and in Sandy, but calls will be coming in from throughout the nation, so don’t expect your call necessarily to be answered by a local.
While employees are specially trained to help consumers compare plans and walk them through the application process, agents can’t choose a plan for a consumer, said Mike Fierberg, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"We know that a large proportion of people don’t understand health insurance and the call center people are there to provide guidance," Fierberg said. Still, "they do not make recommendations. That’s always the customer’s decision."
Tribune reporters Matt Canham and Jennifer Napier-Pearce contributed to this story.
The Affordable Care Act promises to drastically reduce the uninsured rate, which remained flat in Utah in 2012.
An estimated 376,600 Utahns, or 13.2 percent of the population, went without health coverage in 2012, compared to 377,700 in 2011, according to a report released Monday by the Utah Department of Health.
The state’s estimate, culled from a telephone survey, is lower than estimates provided by the U.S. Census. New Census data indicate 417,274 Utahns had no health insurance last year.
A good chunk of Utah’s uninsured would qualify for Medicaid if the state were among those choosing to expand the safety net. Gov. Gary Herbert is still weighing the costs and benefits and hopes to make a decision in the coming months.Read the full report online. > bit.ly/utahuninsured
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