U.S. Senators Chris Coons, D-Del., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., reintroduced legislation that would help independent insurance brokers offer coverage.
The Access to Independent Health Insurance Advisors Act addresses a provision of the Affordable Care Act that has caused health insurance agents and brokers to struggle to stay in business and serve the public.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ original interpretation of a clause in the Affordable Care Act known as the “medical loss ratio” has required health insurance carriers to treat commissions paid to independent agents and brokers as part of their administrative costs.
This has caused many health plans to reduce or even eliminate commissions and limited the availability of insurance agents’ services for consumers, a release from Coons noted.
The senators’ bipartisan legislation would exclude from the medical loss ratio any compensation earned by independent agents and brokers who serve the individual and small group markets.
“Our priority should always be to protect consumers and small businesses, ensuring they have access to the best possible health care coverage,” said Coons. “Our bipartisan bill will fix a provision in the health care law that is currently making it harder for independent agents and brokers to stay in business and serve consumers.”
This legislation is also supported by the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA), Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
“’Medical loss ratio’ has caused serious harm to agents and brokers and their ability to provide essential services to consumers who depend on them to assist with finding appropriate health insurance,” said National Association of Health Underwriters CEO Janet Trautwein. “If enacted, this bill would help ensure that individuals and businesses have access to agents and brokers who need their guidance now more than ever due to all of the market changes.”
Isakson and Coons previously introduced the bipartisan legislation in 2015, during the last session of Congress.