Health Care, Linda Gorman

Will People forced into the health benefits exchange have equal consumer protection?

Under ObamaCare, the lower‑income people forced to get health insurance through the state health benefits exchange will receive insurance purchasing advice from exchange “navigators.”  Will Colorado officials require navigators to pass the same test of insurance knowledge that every other insurance advisor in the state must pass?

icon_blog_noteIf not, the navigator program becomes  spoils to reward the special interest groups that supported the passage of ObamaCare and the state health benefits exchange. One then must ask why officials think people with lower incomes deserve to be denied the basic consumer protections that the legislature provides for people who can afford to purchase health insurance outside of the exchange.

The state seeks to insure that higher-income people purchasing health insurance plans on the open market get advice from people with at least a basic knowledge of the product they are selling. Insurance advisors must pass a test demonstrating they know something about the Colorado Statutes governing insurance, and have an understanding of basic insurance products such as Medicare Supplements, limited benefit plans, and health savings accounts.

The ObamaCare statute makes it clear that navigators cannot actually make a living selling health insurance. Specifically, the ObamaCare statute states that
a navigator shall not—

(i) be a health insurance issuer; or

(ii) receive any consideration directly or indirectly from any health insurance issuer in connection with the enrollment of any qualified individuals or employees of a qualified employer in a qualified health plan.

But while they can’t profit from selling insurance, navigators can represent “commercial fishing industry organizations.” They may also represent “trade, industry, and professional associations… ranching and farming organizations, community and consumer-focused nonprofit groups, chambers of commerce, unions, small business development centers, other licensed insurance agents and brokers, and other entities…”

Those who wrote the ObamaCare law apparently believed the basic arithmetic of financial exposure varies from culture to culture. Thus, the statute requires that navigators “provide information in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate to the needs of the population being served by the Exchange or Exchanges.”

At an estimated wage of $20 per hour for being an assistance worker, $29 an hour for being a project leader, and $48 an hour for being a senior executive, exchange navigators can well afford to demonstrate their professional qualifications by passing the same licensing exam as everyone else. Unless, of course, there is some good reason why being denied basic consumer protections is “culturally” appropriate for lower-income people required to purchase their health insurance from the ObamaCare exchange.

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