Younger Consumers Value Agents

A survey by Applied Systems and InVEST finds that Millennial (18-34) and Gen Z (16-19) consumers value in-person meetings with insurance agents. They value insurance firms that provide the customer-centric, 24/7 experiences they have become accustomed to in other industries. Reid French, chief executive officer of Applied System said, “Independent agencies need to invest in technology to provide multi-channel customer service experiences and to establish an innovative workplace to attract the next waves of insurance consumers and professionals.” The study also finds the following:

  • 55% of Gen Zs and 37% of Millennials prefer to purchase auto insurance in-person.
  • 29% for Gen Zs and 35% of Millennials purchase auto insurance online.
  • Once they have insurance, Gen Zs prefer to meet in person. (That may include meetings via Skype or FaceTime) or over the phone. Most Millennials are happy to communicate with their agent over the phone or online.
  • 51% Gen Zs and 54% of Millennials found their insurance provider based on referrals. Search engines and online reviews were the second and third most ranking sources of information on their insurance provider.
  • 18% of Gen Zs and 37% of Millennials prefer communicating with their insurance provider via their website.
  • For Gen Zs and Millennials, 24/7 access to information and customer service, particularly via a mobile app, is important in choosing an insurance provider. They expect 24/7 customer service via multiple channels.
  • 97% of Gen Zs and Millennials say that 24/7 customer service is an important part of their decision when purchasing insurance.
  • 88% of Gen Zs say that access to information and service via a mobile app as important.
  • 94% of Gen Zs respondents consider having flexibility to work remotely to be important in their choice of an employer; 93% also consider working for an innovative company to be important.
  • More than 60% of Gen Zs and Millennials are not too familiar with the insurance industry as providing future career opportunities.

Agents Were A Big Part of Covered California’s Success

 

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More than 3 million California consumers enrolled in health insurance plans or in Medi-Cal by April 15. That exceeds projections by more than 815,929. Certified insurance agents enrolled 39% of consumers; 41% of consumers self-enrolled through the Covered California website; and certified enrollment counselors and service center representatives each enrolled about 9%. (In case you missed it, The Los Angeles Times ran a big article about the success of agentshttp://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-obamacare-agents-20140511-story.html#page=1).

Eighty-eight percent of those enrolled in Covered California plans are eligible for financial subsidies to help cover the cost of their health insurance premiums. Medi-Cal enrolled about 1.9 million people through the end of March, including 1.1 million through the Covered California portal and county offices, about 650,000 former Low Income Health Program (LIHP) members who were transitioned to Medi-Cal by DHCS, and 180,000 people who applied through the state’s Express Lane program.

Enrollment among Latinos and young people (18 to 34) had a strong finish. Additionally, Covered California more than doubled its base projection for Asian enrollment and has met the base projection for African-American enrollment. Lee said insurance companies are reporting that 85% of all enrollees have paid their first month’s premium. Latino enrollment now stands at 305,106 or 28% of the total enrollment. From the end of March to April 13, Latino enrollment increased at a rate of 30%, and has cleared the base projection of 265,000.

Enrollment of young adults 18 to 34 years old finished at 29% of the consumers who have selected a Covered California health insurance plan. This age group represents about 25% of the state’s population but approximately 36% of those who are eligible for subsidies. Also, about 36% of those newly enrolled in Medi-Cal are young adults 18 to 34 years old.

Fifty-eight percent of the subsidy-eligible consumers who enrolled in the exchange through April 15, signed up for a Silver plan, which is the second-least expensive plan of the four metal tiers.As many as 1,156 small businesses enrolled in Covered California’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Enrollment in SHOP is available year round. For more information, visit www.CoveredCA.com.

Exchange Agents Struggle with Application Deadlines

™∞Covered California is reaching out to the California Association of Health Underwriters to get help entering information from thousands of paper applications submitted by Exchange-certified agents.

The online application process was discovered to have glitches when the Exchange opened for enrollment in October 1, 2013 so the exchange requested paper application forms as a short-term solution. Since October, agents have filled out the 32-page paper form for thousands of new health care consumers and submitted them to Covered California by fax and by mail.

Covered California is asking certified agents for help in entering the application data into to their online system. Until the data is entered online, health insurers are not able to notify new enrollments and provide a premium notice of payment due. For coverage to be effective as of January 1, 2014, consumers must send payments to their health insurers postmarked no later than December 31, 2013,

Agents throughout California are voicing serious concerns that there may not be enough hours in the day to enter the data in time to meet the December 23rd application deadline. “It takes over 90 minutes to enter the information from the application due to the slow exchange system,” said Bruce Benton of Genesis Financial & Insurance Services in Sherman Oaks, Calif. “To have to go back, at this late date, and key in the data from paper applications I have already submitted to Covered California is extremely challenging and will take several days to process. This is additional work on top of the Medi-Care open enrollment that is also happening right now along with the employer group plan renewals. I am working to midnight most every night right now just to keep up. This is a major issue,” he added.

“For most licensed agents, it is not an option to add to their overhead,” said Sam Smith, president of California Association of Health Underwriters (CAHU). Smith has asked Covered California to offer relief from the legally mandated application cut-off date by insurers for the thousands of individuals who submitted paper applications. Patrick Burns, CEO of Burns Employee Benefits Insurance Services, LLC in Oakland said, “This is going to push agents to the wall, but we are all in this together and we want to find the best possible solutions to work it through to best serve our clients.”

Colo. exchange brings brokers to the table

The massive job of signing up as many as 800 people a day during Connect for Health Colorado’s open enrollment calls for an “all-hands-on-deck” strategy, according to small-business marketplace manager Jim Sugden. That means the expertise of agents and brokers is crucial, and the state hopes producers will become certified partners the effort. Brokers indicated obtaining certification is important to retaining their stake in the market, and in some cases brokers are anticipating increased business and planning to invest substantial time in educating consumers about what the Affordable Care Act means to them. Durango Herald (Colo.) (8/2)

What are the roles of agents/brokers, navigators, assisters?

A session at AHIP’s Institute 2013 addressed the roles of agents and brokers, exchange navigators and assisters. Access Health CT’s Phil Boyle and NAIFA vice president Diane Boyle said that although there are many unknowns, agents and brokers have a crucial role to play as the Affordable Care Act gets off the ground. Producers will remain essential to consumers because they play roles that navigators and assisters cannot, such as handling benefits communications and working with consumers after the sale on coverage enhancements and claims advocacy. Navigators and assisters will largely focus on groups that are unreachable to agents and brokers, the experts said. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Leadership (6/13)

Lawmakers raise concerns over navigator standards

Nine senators raised concerns in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the Affordable Care Act’s navigator program lacks sufficient consumer protections and sets an “unreasonably low standard” for navigators. The lawmakers argued that agents and brokers have the necessary expertise to guide consumers through the process of selecting a health insurance plan and asked HHS to reply by Aug. 1 to a series of questions the letter poses. BenefitsPro.com (6/20)

New Exchange Website Helps Agents Stay Compliant

CoveredCaliforniaThe California Health Benefit Exchange website,www.CoveredCA.com, is now live. California Health Underwriters (CAHU) is urging agents to visit the site and review all the marketing materials to avoid violating AB 1761 rules. AB 1761, which took effect January 1, prohibits any individual or website from attempting to hold their selves, plans or websites out as officially authorized as “Covered California” certified or approved.

CAHU says that word has come down that the Exchange plans a hard crackdown on violators of AB 1761 provisions. AB 1761 was supported by all three-agent organizations as well as other consumer health advocates.

The Covered California website has been designed for ease of use by all stakeholders, including licensed agents and employers. In fact, the new website contains individual and small employer content on the Small Employer Health Options Program (SHOP) section. A newsletter about SHOP Exchange happenings is expected to launch sometime in the first quarter of 2013. The site, which is available in English and Spanish, also offers a variety of fact sheets in 11 additional languages. It provides basic information about the Exchange and a calculator to give Californians an estimate of how much help they can get to reduce their premium costs.

Agents can help advise on corporate wellness programs

Large employers are shifting toward wellness programs to manage health costs, but fewer small and midsize businesses are developing and using wellness programs. Trusted agents are well positioned to advise businesses on implementing health and wellness programs, writes Barbara Stewart, a vice president with Washington National Insurance Co. Agents can help employers see the value of wellness programs and incentives, advise on the basic elements or programs to implement, and guide employers in developing the program. BenefitsPro.com (10/24

Last Updated 10/20/2021

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