WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del., today introduced legislation that will ensure health insurance agents and brokers can continue to provide essential counseling and advocacy services to consumers looking for the right health insurance coverage.
The Access to Independent Health Insurance Advisors Act (S.1661) addresses a provision of the Affordable Care Act known as the medical loss ratio that has had unintended consequences for nearly a half million licensed independent agents and brokers and their employees. Due to the Department of Health and Human Services’ interpretation of the medical loss ratio provisions in the health reform law, health insurance carriers are required to treat agent and broker commissions as part of their administrative costs. This in turn threatens the ability of independent agents and brokers to stay in business and serve the public.
This bipartisan legislation would exclude any compensation earned by independent agents and brokers that serve the individual and small group markets from the medical loss ratio.
“This proposal will protect American consumers who are navigating the market to buy health insurance by giving insurance agents and brokers the ability to assist consumers in finding the best health coverage to meet their needs,” Senator Isakson said. “This is a commonsense, bipartisan solution that will go a long way in benefitting the American health care system.”
“Our priority should always be to protect consumers and small businesses, ensuring they have access to the best possible healthcare coverage,” said Senator Coons. “Our bipartisan bill will fix a provision in the healthcare law that is currently making it harder for independent agents and brokers to stay in business and serve consumers.”
This legislation is also supported by the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA), Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
“We applaud the commitment by Senators Isakson and Coons to protect consumer and employer access to professional health insurance agents and brokers,” said Janet Trautwein, CEO, National Association of Health Underwriters. “It’s critically important now more than ever that consumers continue to have access to licensed health insurance professionals who dedicate themselves to helping people find quality, affordable healthcare coverage. The MLR requirements continue to have a negative financial impact on the country’s approximately half-million licensed professional health insurance agents and brokers. Millions of individuals and small businesses depend on licensed agents and brokers to help them navigate the healthcare marketplace and find health plans that suit their needs and budgets. Without agents’ expert advice, many individuals and businesses will end up spending more for health insurance policies and receive less care.”