What were you doing August 08, 2013? I was driving a couple of hundred miles to Olympia to test the Washington Healthplan Finder. There were four brokers in the room. As we walked through it, we built a list of questions/problems to help the exchange get better. The biggest shocker was what we were expected to do for free. Before the ACA brokers received payment for helping people enroll in Medicaid. Most people can't imagine getting paid for 1/4 of their work but it is how we keep our doors open. I think I am the only one left writing individual healthcare. The only other one that is in the business in Tacoma does mostly large business solutions.
|Pre ACA Problems|
The early days were wild. I had to create flyers from next to nothing. We did our best to go out and educate the public from radio interviews at KPQ in Wenatchee to Front page in the Wenatchee World. We did classes at the local YMCA , libraries and Rotary Clubs. Honestly, the worst experience was at my own club where another club's President attacked the ACA politically.
The ACA brought me into politics. I had a conservative background and when a client asked me how it was going to effect them I had to step back and look at the program. The cost of healthcare was increasing since 1998 and people were paying more out of pocket. The rural hospitals were closing because they were not being paid. People were not getting helped when they got sick or when they went to the doctor couldn't pay for the medicine. When I looked at it, as it was written the ACA honestly took the steps to correct those problems. I have to say as written because I have seen a lot of the sabotage needlessly hurt a lot of Americans.
At Suzie Health Solutions, we had an understanding that the need to simplify healthcare was a necessity. I wouldn't write Health Insurance before the Affordable Care Act. There was too many dirty tricks. I have never been one to tell a person that what they were depending on has been canceled because they used it. Health Insurance was a necessary evil because we are all born lucky, healthy and move away from it as we age. The ACA made insurance companies behave in an ethical manner and I like that.
|YWCA Fund Raising|
Oct 1, 2013 and the Healthplan finder crashed. I had to call my contacts at the Exchange and get them to send me emails with the paper forms. I did three hand written policies, the first day. With my experience with Life Insurance, it was no big deal to adapt and overcome the difficulties. My clients were going to get their healthcare despite any technical problems. I made the front page of the paper only to have the reporter screamed at by old health insurance agents.
|First Front Page Wenatchee World|
During Open Enrollment, I reached out to everyone that I could using Facebook. My old account was erased by Farmers during a spat so we did another a few years later. I had clients from Forks to Spokane with all lot of towns in between. The furthest call that I got was from a satellite phone in the Bering Sea to take care of a fisherman's family after an internet broker failed horribly and abandoned them.
By the time it was done, I was awarded as a Top Producer in Eastern Washington. That was the first year. I have seen the ups and downs and continue to work on improving healthcare for my clients. My wife joined and started helping people. We had to start helping people with Medicare. We added a Life Insurance Exchange. We have been a Full Service Enrollment Center for 2 years and a Storefront for the Healthplan Finder because helping people is what we have always done.
My biggest piece of advice is to always select a no charge broker! We are trained by the companies to understand the insurance plans. If you pick the right one then you have help through out the year if anything goes sideways. If there is any commission then they are paid that way. If there is any problem then you have access to a highly trained customer service person. It takes two minutes of the application and it solves a huge amount of headaches. Just today, I was looking up a policy number and see if they paid before they received their Insurance Cards. Only an broker attached to the account can do that. So select a broker.