It is quite interesting that just a few months ago, the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was having trouble getting people to sign up for coverage. The Government was shocked that when they released the PCIP plan that people, who had not had any insurance for six months, didn’t jump at the chance to purchase coverage. In fact, HHS was so surprised that they decided it must be the fact that the premiums were too high. HHS reasoned that if they dropped the premium, people would rush to get the insurance. They proceeded to drop premiums upwards to 40%. Well, that wasn’t the answer either as membership still didn’t grow as expected. Finally someone at HHS decided that maybe the answer was lack of awareness and maybe by using professional insurance agents, they might get their message out. They even decided that these professional agents should be paid for the time and effort that they provided. What a novel idea, use an existing platform (professional agents) to sell a health insurance product. Well guess what, it worked. Professional agents assisted people to get on to the PCIP plans and all of a sudden, we see over a 400% increase in membership with over 25% in just the last few months. So what does HHS decide to do? Sure enough, let’s stop paying the professional agent for the work they are doing. Reminds me of what a certain carrier has done, but I regress. HHS has notified agents that they will no longer pay for the work of an agent or broker. Now that the word is out there, HHS believes that it is no longer prudent for this unneeded expense to be paid. My question, why did you need us in the first place? Oh, that’s right, you couldn’t get results from your methods. When will the government, as well as carriers, realize that insurance is purchased through relationships. A professional agent has spent years building these relationships and their clients look to them for guidance. You cannot get the same results through websites, advertising or as some carriers have tried, by using your own sales force. Only the professional agent or broker can bring a variety of solutions to the client and assist in finding the correct one for their needs. To have HHS or a carrier decide it isn’t necessary to pay that professional agent for the work they do is wrong. I will have to say that at least HHS has stated it will pay for the business placed by agents prior to May 1 which is better than a carrier who cancels a broker’s contract for no cause and yet keeps all commissions earned. It seems that at least HHS understands that in order to get their product to the masses, it needs to at least continue to pay for the services it had asked of the agent. Don’t you wish that all carriers understood that?