Agents Offer Checklist for Texans Buying Health Insurance Inside or Outside the Exchange

PR Newswire

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With some progress being reported on repairs to Healthcare.gov, many consumers are moving forward with efforts to purchase coverage through the electronic marketplace. However, gaining access to the website may only be the beginning of an exercise that could leave many consumers uncertain about key details regarding the coverage they choose.

Mark Bellman, president of the Texas Association of Health Underwriters, offered this assessment of the dilemma that many consumers may experience: "So many consumers will be focused on the pricing of the coverage available and may not be taking the time to consider details that, if known, might cause them to make other selections. The cheapest deal may not be the best deal."

Bellman continued, "Questions like, 'Is my current doctor included in the plan?'; 'How much will my out-of-pocket expenses be?'; and 'Will I be able to receive the same medications that I'm currently taking?' are among an array of important details that most will want to know before making a choice. Many will discover, after it's too late, that their doctor or preferred hospital are not in the networks of the plan they select."

Because of complications in using the website immediately following its rollout, consumers now have until December 23, 2013, to purchase policies that will take effect January 1, 2014. Overall enrollment for the year will end on March 31, 2014.

Members of the association that Bellman leads are working feverishly to help Texans meet the deadline and make the right choices at no charge to the consumer, a fact that many fail to realize, since agent commissions are paid by insurers.

Bellman added, "The cost of purchasing a policy will be the same for a consumer that uses an agent as one that does not. The commissions an insurer expects to pay are already built into the cost of a plan, so the price inside or outside the Exchange is the same whether or not an agent is involved."

He continued, "Consumers are, in a way, leaving money on the table if they don't seek the assistance of insurance professionals in shopping for coverage that best meets their needs and preferences."

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