The Alan Katz Health Care Reform Blog

Health Care Reform From One Person's Perspective

If You Could Ask Just Three Questions …

Posted by Alan on September 24, 2009

And now for something completely different: Imagine you’re a health insurance broker on a plane to somewhere. It’s not until the captain announces you’re approaching your destination that that you realize the person sitting next to you is a key player in the health care reform debate. Maybe she’s a lawmaker, an analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, a deputy in the White House, or a prominent policy wonk. Numerous questions occur to you, but you only have time to ask just three.

You realize a lot of people are talking about the details of health care reform (What legislation is likely to pass? When will its provisions take effect?). What very few discuss pertains to distribution (Do you see value in the services of brokers in today’s system? What role should brokers in a reformed health care system? That kind of thing). This is your chance to ask. What would your three questions be?

Between now and September 26th (Saturday for those keeping track) please list your three questions by adding a comment to this post. Starting on Sunday and at least through Monday (September 27th and September 28th) I’ll post a survey allowing visitors to this blog to vote on the questions submitted. Then we’ll see if we can’t provide answers tor some of the more popular questions.

Every reader of this blog is invited to participate in this exercise regardless of whether or not you’re a broker. If you can, please try to keep the questions focused on distribution (I know, with everything going on, that could be tough).

The plane is descending. You’ve got time for three questions. Ask away.


13 Responses to “If You Could Ask Just Three Questions …”

  1. 1. How will the government ultimately control medical trend or “bend the curve” in Medicare and Medicaid?

    2. Medicare says it is bankrupt in 6 years? Shouldn’t saving Medicare be a top priority?

    3. If the government introduces a national health plan, how will medical trend be less than private insurance companies, other than by unilaterally lowering provider fees?

  2. Nosedoc said

    I am not a broker and cannot pretend that I am (I’d just get myself in trouble due to ignorance). That said, the question I would ask is “What are the 3 or 4 most essential elements to sustainable health care reform that are being ignored or are in jeopardy due to political conflicts of interest on either side of the congressional aisle?

  3. Wolf Blitzer recently asked if allowing insurance to compete across state borders would bring the cost of health care down. What do you think?

    In some countries, drugs which are prescribed in the US are available over the counter. If we ran our drug prescription system the way say Canada or Italy or China does, would this give cost savings?

    Would health care savings accounts reduce costs?

  4. 1. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate how important are health insurance brokers to the buying public in the market place now and in the future.

    2. If one of your children supported a family by working primarily as a health insurance broker, would you advise them to seek a new career in light of the proposed legislation?

    3. What is meant by “call centers” for support as described in the Baucus proposal? Are you talking hourly employees that are paid by what source of revenue?

    Jeanette Taylor
    Health Insurance Broker

  5. Anthony DeCicco said

    1. How much consideration is given to setting up a plan that increases policy deductibles with employers reimbursing employees for all or part of the costs relative to that increased deductible together with a cost cap structured to protect employers by limiting the amount an employer must pay before the insurance carrier picks up those expenses.
    2. Have they considered using a reverse deductible program with or without the assistance of the employer, such as the one shown at. –
    3. Do business owners encourage you to work to lower their premiums even if it will cost their employees more?

  6. Ron Masters said

    Alan, Great exercise.

    1. Prior to implementing an Insurance Exchange or Pathway or even (God forbid) a Public Option, why not engage Independent Insurance Brokers to enroll eligible Americans in the myriad of Federal, State and Local programs for uninsureds? This can be accomplished along with `individual and group health insurance marketing and service activities. MAYBE A SET FEE PER ENROLLEE. Possibly all enrollee forms could go through insurers to be batched and forwarded to the proper agency

    2. Why not provide incentives to medium size health insurers by way of State Premium Tax waivers on a sliding scale according to how many newly insured Americans are written and who remain on their books for a minimum of 5 years, grading down to 75% years 5 thru 10 and 25% thereafter? Additionally, a certain % of the credit is returned to all of their health insurance policy holders for reduction of premiums due. Plan design such as some form of GI and the continuation of portability provisions, at a minimum.. Thus using free market creativity for better health plan coverage, nationwide and better health outcomes. Feds could match remimbursements for States that participate and match amounts paid to insurers.

    3. Finally, instead of trying to destroy Medicare Advantage, broaden it. Since medical outcomes are far above that of Medigap Policyholders, why minimalize its effectiveness. Insurer subsidies to MA providers were part of Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, these subsidies to insurers were in exchange for their complying with new CMS paperless requirements, and a major percentage of the subsidies were and are mandated to reduce Medicare Advantage Sr premiums,,,many saw their premiums disappear and are still premium free, a great deal for Seniors Why would anyone wish to stop helping America’s Seniors as well as stop something that is such a great Public Private Sector Initiative?

    Sorry this is so long

  7. 1. Will there be a role for agents within the exchange(s)?
    2. Will there be a viable IFP market outside the exchange(s)?
    3. Will the carriers’ loss ratio reporting put pressure on agent commissions?

  8. Sonja Gulliksen said

    My questions pertain to page 215 of this proposal. Our country is in the midst of a recession and countless are currently unemployed. How would a fee levied against medical device manufactures stabilize the economy if the manufacturer has to lay off their employees due to the significant fees that will be imposed upon them? Has the impact of the fees levied against the manufactures even been taken into consideration and how many more Americans will lose their jobs? Did Baucus even consider that if this fee is imposed and there is an increase in the unemployed that more people are going to need assistance from the governement and where will the money come from to support all the newly unemployed seeking assistance?

  9. Bruce D. Benton said

    One catch-all question:

    Most American’s rely on insurance agents to provide guidance with their auto, home and umbrella coverages. The same applies to life insurance, disability and long term care insurance. Likewise, employers look to professional insurance agents for expertise in workers compensation, property and liability insurance. Should health insurance, senior products and employee benefits be viewed any differently? If so, what is the rationale?

  10. besthealthcarerates said

    I agree with your comment gary Weiss affordable medical insurance can only be achieved by bring down the cost of healthcare…

    I would ask:

    1. What will be the role of health insurance brokers after reform?
    2. Do you expect the number of brokers to increase or decrease after reform?
    3. Will the insurance companys bypass brokers completely and sell their products through exchanges?

    Thanks Alan!

  11. Rick said

    1. Do you realize health insurance brokers are more efficient contrasted to salaried people, as the broker is compensated by commission and only receives that commission if the client purchases the product and satisfied enough to renew?

    2. Do you realize that a thriving small business person does not have time to compare products/prices and then explain this to employees, and then continue this procedure annually?

    3. Taking into account my previous questions to you, would it not make sense for the government to undertake a plan assuring that the citizens have a flourishing system of independent health insurance broker’s?

  12. Gary Weiss said

    I would be satisfied with an answer to just one question: How will the various bills under consideration stem the ever-increasing cost of health care? Because if nothing is done about that, everything else, including insuring everyone in the entire country, just brings us closer to health care Armageddon. So what if we’re all insured if the costs keep going up at the current rate?

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