CCIIO is the acronym for the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, which is the government agency charged with overseeing the implementation of the insurance exchanges that will be a central feature of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. CCIIO has recently issued a guidance memorandum on the role that it expects insurance agents and brokers to play in connection with the insurance exchanges. In that memorandum, CCIIO states that agents and brokers will be able to assist consumers and businesses in obtaining insurance through the exchanges by either working through the websites of insurance companies or directly on the websites of the exchanges. In particular, CCIIO thinks that agents and brokers “will play a critical role” in helping employers and employees obtain coverage through the Small Business Health Options Programs that will be created.
In states like Georgia that have chosen not to create their own state health insurance exchange, agents and brokers will have to register with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), which is the parent agency of CCIIO. CMS anticipates being able to start registering agents and brokers online sometime this summer. The registration process will involve participating in an online training program. After the registration process is completed, the agent or broker will be provided with a user ID number that will be necessary in order for the agent or broker to be paid for their services in assisting employers and employees in obtaining and maintaining insurance coverage through the insurance exchange. The federally created or assisted insurance exchanges will not determine the amount of such compensation. Instead, the insurance companies who participate in the exchanges will continue to determine the amount of such compensation, which they will pay. However, as of now, that compensation must be the same as the company pays for issuing insurance coverage outside of the insurance exchanges. Click here for the complete guidance document which contains answers to many frequently asked questions.
For those interested in learning more about the role that CCIIO sees agents and brokers playing with respect to the insurance exchanges, there is a webinar on this subject tomorrow, May 14, 2013, beginning at 1 pm. Apparently, agents and brokers have had some difficulty in registering for this seminar, so IIABA has provided detailed instructions for doing so. Click here to see those instructions.
Regardless of how you may feel about Obamacare, it appears that the federal government anticipates that there will be a need for agents and brokers in implementing it and recognizes that they should be paid for their services. Given the amount of confusion there is likely to be, there would seem to be a great need on the part of consumers and businesses for knowledgeable assistance in determining what their best course of action would be. Providing such assistance has traditionally been the role filled by health insurance agents and brokers, so it appears there will be life after Obamacare for them after all.