Insurance agents in the Empire State are calling on lawmakers to ensure that brokers and producers have a role in the creation of the state-based health exchange mandated by federal health care reform.
Those calls come after lawmakers hosted a roundtable meeting about the exchange earlier this week with insurance agents and other interested groups.
Jack Smith, executive vice-president of William A. Smith & Son Insurance in Newburgh, a board member of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of New York (IIABNY), told lawmakers — including Senate Health Committee Chair Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) and Insurance Committee Chair Sen. James L. Seward (R-Milford) — that consumers need agents’ help in evaluating coverage.
“What we would really like to see is a continued role for an advisor like an insurance agent or broker in the exchange,” Smith said. “Consumers need a trusted advisor, a licensed advocate who understands the laws and markets in New York State.”
Several agents’ and underwriters’ groups in the state — including IIABNY and the Professional Insurance Agents of New York (PIANY) and others — have been working together to produce a statement of core principles for the new exchange. Among those principles: The preservation of agents’ role in the health insurance world.
Dick Poppa, president and CEO of IIABNY said the health insurance exchange is one of the top issues confronting Empire State agents.
“Each state is required to come forward with an insurance exchange for their state, or they can opt not to, and then the federal government would in essence layer in its own exchange,” Poppa said. “Of course, we don’t want the federal government doing anything, so we have spearheaded a group of other producer organizations to work on this issue.”