Friday, December 03, 2010

Should you use a Health Insurance Broker?

Lately it seems, there's been quite a bit of discussion about health care and health insurance. Well, not exactly "lately". These topics have been hotly debated for the last few years. But, recently, the chatter has heated up a bit more, no doubt fueled by Republican party gains in the Senate and, particularly, in the House of Representatives. Just, yesterday, NPR carried a conversation featuring their chief health insurance correspondent. What struck me about the conversation fell into three categories: A) The extraordinary knowledge base held by correspondent Julie Rovner, B) The unending complexity of the current system, and C) the ridiculous notion that the public could ever be expected to keep up with any of this stuff. And by C I mean things like new protections for workers, new standards for health insurance providers, and tax credits for small businesses that are very concerned about their ability to provide healthcare to their workforce and also stay in business given the ever-rising costs of providing health care.

For businesses, of course, staying abreast of such issues can make a difference in the bottom line in several ways. It can affect your immediate costs, it can affect your ability to provide what your employees need, and it can affect your ability to retain your best workers as well as attract good workers. Which is why to me, the idea of a health insurance broker is not a bad idea, but, possibly, a very good one. I know a number of individuals who pooh-pooh using an "expert" to help them to arrive at a decision. But let's get real. If you have a legal issue, you call an attorney. If you dryer doesn't work, you call a repairman. Typically, it does not behoove you to try to wing it. The mere fact that an individual or company has a profit incentive to help you or your business does not disarm the argument that getting help can save time and money. In fact, I can think of many individuals who eschewed getting social security disability representation, went to a hearing unrepresented, and lost, chiefly because they did not sufficiently appreciate the fact that social security hearings are events that should be properly, and professionally, prepared for. I can also reflect on my own experience in attempting to learn about what the hell to do when my mother was diagnosed with dementia. My mother's doctor and the hospital were practically useless when it came to advising me in the area of "what to do next". A local social worker, on the other hand, made things easier by simply pointing the way toward various points of information. There's no profit incentive when it comes to a county-paid social worker; but the fundamental premise here is the same: sometimes you save yourself a lot of grief by going to an expert. And in the case of business and health insurers, I strongly suspect you can save a fair amount of money.

That's what makes the following NPR article on health insurance brokers so interesting. Read it yourself and arrive at your own opinion regarding brokers. One line from the story stood out to me like a lightning bolt. "Stocks knows several who have already sold their businesses in anticipation of the health law's effects".

Health Insurance Brokers Fight For Their Future

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