When states and the federal government rolled out online marketplaces to help people buy health insurance on Tuesday, you'd think that old-fashioned insurance brokers would have been worried.
All told about $200 million is being spent on a new army of people to help consumers find their way. These navigators, guides or assisters, as they're called, would seem to threaten the business of traditional brokers.
Many brokers work for small independent businesses. So are brokers at risk of becoming the next travel agents, whose ranks were thinned by online shopping?
Screencap of Colorado's health insurance exchange website
As Coloradans begin shopping for health insurance via the newly opened exchange, the Division of Insurance is looking into letters some people say they’ve gotten from their insurance carriers warning of higher rates if they don’t renew their existing policies.
Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 9:39 am
Onita Sanders (right), a certified application counselor at the Southeastern Virginia Health System, helps Virginia resident Brenda Harrell with health coverage options at Enrollfest in Hampton, Va., on Tuesday.
In a call center in Rancho Cordova, Calif., on Tuesday, all the workers wore the same T-shirt: "Keep Calm And Go Live."
They were ready and waiting to take calls from consumers who could buy health insurance on California's new insurance marketplace for the first time. So the T-shirts urged calm, but the mood was ecstatic and emotional among the architects and key backers who gathered to flip the switch on the Golden State's exchange.
Colorado's health care exchange opened as planned today, at 8 am Mountain time. Not long after that, the website started scrolling a message: "Due to overwhelming interest, we are temporarily suspending the creation of accounts, please continue to browse plans."
The state has been planning for this day since 2007, when leaders from both political parties in the state started talking about overhauling health care. It's one of just 16 states that chose to create its own health insurance exchange, rather than using one run by the federal government.