The Palm Coast Association of Health Underwriters (PCAHU) team of Debbie Hollister, Steve Israel, Keith Jordano, Julian Lago, Michele Malooley and Brad and Sue Tunis left sunny South Florida to venture to the frozen north for the National Association of Health Underwriters 25th Annual Capital Conference in Washington, DC. Health insurance professionals from Alaska to Florida and in between convened in Washington to listen, learn, discuss and meet with legislatures about health care issues affecting everyone.
These health insurance professionals look forward to the potential opportunities of a reformed health system. But to make the system more efficient and more responsive to everyone, we believe some changes need to be made; such as increase access to licensed benefit professionals, changes to increase affordability, changes to reduce burden on businesses, and transparency.
- Changes to Increase Access to Licensed Benefit Professionals
- Adding a dedicated customer service hotline for certified brokers, navigators, marketplace assisters, and state health officials to ensure that problems with enrollment are addressed quickly and effectively.
- Completion of delayed federal exchange broker portal.
- Amendments to the marketplace coverage application and transaction records to track and record the identifying numbers for all navigator/non-navigator assisters, call-center support personnel and certified agents who assist enrollee.
- Improvements to healthcare.gov to make it easier for enrollees to find local certified brokers.
- Enhanced priority to technology efforts to allow better access and direct broker portals to assist in enrollments.
- Changes to Increase Affordability
Affordability is the key to the success of health reform. Health insurance is expensive because the cost of medical care has skyrocketed and lack of diversity of the risk pool. Making coverage affordable for everyone doesn’t just mean providing generous subsidies to help people pay for coverage. It also means examining what is causing the cost of coverage to skyrocket and taking a hard look at the cost of medical care and usage.
- Changes to Reduce the Burden on Businesses
Reducing the new compliance and regulatory issues employers are now responsible for to make it easier for them to offer their employees benefits.
Transparency and better public information on cost and quality are essential for three reasons: 1) to help providers improve by benchmarking their performance against others; 2) to encourage private insurers and public programs to reward quality and efficiency; and 3) to help patients make informed choices about their care. Transparency is also important to level the playing field. The widespread practice of charging patients different prices for the same care is inherently inequitable, especially when the uninsured are charged more than other patients.
A few of the guest speakers were Mark Lwry, Senior Advisor to Secretary of Treasury and Deputy Assistant Secretary (Tax Policy) for Retirement and Health Policy, US Department of Treasury Kevin Counihan, Marketplace CEO US Department of Health & Human Service, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Representatives Ami Bera ,M.D. (D-CA), Diane Black (R-TN).
The PCAHU team meet with Congressman Patrick Murphy the other Representatives made their staff available. Lois Frankel’s Deputy Chief of Staff James Cho, Congressman Ted Deutch’s aid Ryan Lichtenfels, Congressman Alcee Hastings aids Clarey Walker and LaTasha Lee had open dialog with the team. The team exchanged cards and expressed their desire to be of assistance to them if they had any questions or needed help with matters regarding healthcare or Medicare. Everyone left feeling a sense of accomplishment about their trip to Capitol Hill and that their messages were delivered to receptive ears.