New York Health Insurance Exchange Bill Preserves Agents’ Role

New York agents are cheering a new Senate bill that guarantees a role for producers in the state’s health insurance exchange.

A bill introduced yesterday by Sens. James L. Seward (R-Milford) and Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), is the first formal proposal for creating the state’s health insurance exchange, which was mandated the federal health care reform bill last year.

This proposal calls for a public exchange overseen by an 11-member board who have different expertise in the health care field — among those areas: purchasing health coverage. The bill specifically mentions agents and brokers in this category and requires agents and brokers be permitted to obtain coverage for individuals and businesses through the exchange. The exchange will also have eight regional advisory committees who will advise the exchange, and agents and brokers will be eligible to serve on these councils.

“Insurance producers play an indispensable role in helping individuals and small business customers to navigate the complex landscape of health insurance with its many plans and options,” said Christopher A. Brassard, chairman of the Independent Insurance Agents and Broker of New York (IIABNY). “Small businesses and individuals simply do not have the expertise or the time to select the best insurance plan, so they rely heavily on insurance producers to help them.”

Seward, who chairs the Senate’s Insurance committee, said the legislation “allows New York to control its own health insurance destiny, preserving employer-sponsored coverage, ensuring health insurance brokers and business groups are involved in the process and, ultimately, providing consumers with quality coverage options.”