Insurance Agents Played Major Role in Exchange Enrollment
Insurance agents played a key role during Covered California's first open enrollment period, signing up nearly 40% of individuals who enrolled in exchange plans, according to new state data, the Los Angeles Times reports.
California officials had estimated that about 80% of consumers would seek assistance when enrolling in health coverage through the exchange.
To meet that need, the state planned to employee 16,000 enrollment counselors to assist consumers with enrollment. However, only 600 counselors were certified by the exchange when open enrollment began because of delayed training sessions and background checks, as well as some computer glitches. At the end of open enrollment, the exchange had about 5,600 certified enrollment counselors.
In comparison, about 12,000 insurance agents were certified by the state to help consumers enroll.
Details of Agents' Role
According to the Times, the data found that insurance agents enrolled about 525,000 of the nearly 1.4 million California residents who selected a health plan through the exchange. While about 40% of consumers enrolled through insurance agents:
- About 40% used the Covered California website;
- About 9% signed up through enrollment counselors; and
- About 9% signed up through the exchange's call center.
The findings come after some groups expressed concerns that insurance agents would favor certain insurers and fail to explain the full spectrum of health insurance options available on the exchange.
However, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said an initial review found that agents enrolled consumers across all income levels and in various demographics, including Latino individuals. The state still is reviewing enrollment data to determine if agents inappropriately promoted certain health plans.
He said the exchange will be relying more heavily on insurance agents during the next open enrollment period (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 5/10).
New Enrollment Statistics
In related news, Covered California has released new enrollment statistics. The data are divided into 19 regions and include sign-ups through the end of March, HealthyCal reports (Guzik, HealthyCal, 5/9).
The data found that:
- 400,889 consumers enrolled in health plans in Los Angeles County (Covered California release, 5/7);
- 289,021 consumers enrolled in plans in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area region (Covered California release , 5/7);
- 131,804 consumers enrolled in health plans in Orange County (Covered California release , 5/7);
- 122,971 consumers enrolled in health plans in two Inland Empire counties (Covered California release , 5/7);
- 121,900 consumers in health plans in San Diego County (Covered California release , 5/7);
- 108,752 consumers enrolled in health plans in nine Central Valley counties (Covered California release , 5/7);
- 95,499 consumers enrolled in health plans in six Central Coast counties (Covered California release , 5/7);
- 69,540 consumers enrolled in health plans in four Sacramento-region counties (Covered California release , 5/7); and
- 49,665 consumers enrolled in health plans in mostly rural Northern California counties (Covered California release , 5/7).