Sunday, September 15, 2013
Zen And The Art Of Insurance Selling
Gary may be a federal employee. He might be the employee of a federal contractor. I can’t say. We were having our third conversation as he tried to solve the ongoing problems with the CMS Enterprise Portal, a multi-purpose site that I needed to access so that I could be registered to work on the new exchanges. During our second conversation my screen had said that I was locked out of the site while his said that I had an open door. Sadly, mine was right. We were about to try again.
Gary, before we start, I have to tell you a quick story. A buddy of mine called right after we got off the phone yesterday. He was having difficulty getting in to the Portal. I got him on to Chrome and walked him right through the process. No crashes! No hassles! He is registered.
One, I wanted to share a success story. Two, I want to put this into perspective. I’m an insurance agent. I’ve been doing this for 35 years. This stuff is just a bump in the road. It is going to work. And when it does, I will be back to doing what I do – solve problems for individuals and businesses. This is what you do. I can only imagine how frustrated YOU are with these system issues.
Thank you Dave. We are trying.
Did you forget that the guy at the other end of the phone is just another human being? At what point did we decide that anyone who disagrees with us or doesn’t do what we want them to do is Evil, or Incompetent, or Destroying America?
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is 3 ½ year old. The law instituted some useful, meaningful changes, some expensive, problematic changes, and some non-starters. But the most visible, most significant provisions of the law are about to go into effect at the beginning of next month. Spoiler Alert – this is going to be a rocky start.
I can’t really explain why, perhaps it is my partner Jeff and his incessant talk of Yoga, but I have achieved a certain peace with the PPACA and the upcoming upheaval it may bring. And because of the calm that I must be projecting, I have fielded lots of calls from not just my individual and employer clients, but also from my fellow agents. Most of the people I talk to are either hopeful or apprehensive. Of course, I do get the occasional calls from the angry people who watch too much TV.
My clients, businesses and individuals, want to know how the law will affect them. Will they get to keep their doctor? Are the prices going up or down? Will they be OK? Isn’t that what we all want to know? Are we going to be OK? The answer is YES.
You, Mr. or Ms. Reader, might pay more or less for your health insurance coverage. We don’t know the answer to that today. But you will have access to coverage and to care. And the vast majority of us will adjust, because we always do. Freaking out about it now accomplishes nothing. When and if the time comes for you to shop for coverage, you may need to muster all of the skill you recently used to compare cell phone plans or car deals to determine the best program for you. If you are lucky you will be able to utilize the help of a trusted advisor to help explain your choices.
People in Cleveland may be forced to choose between the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospital systems. How many Americans wish that they had such a tough decision? I suspect that the pharmacies will be lining up with specific insurers. The nearest drug store in your plan may be three blocks from your home instead of two. We will survive.
This blog has contended for over three years that we are moving away from employer sponsored group health insurance to buy it yourself plans. Nothing has changed in that assessment. Your needs aren’t necessarily the same as your co-workers. You may do a better job of meeting your needs. Or not.
Many of my peers are more than a little conflicted. We all know individuals who have been unable to acquire affordable health insurance in the past due to an illness or injury that renders them difficult to insure. Whether or not the problem was self-inflicted isn’t really relevant at this point. We want to help them to be insured and the new law may solve some problems. We are also worried about the clients, individuals and businesses, which may take massive rate increases. And we are worried about ourselves. We are being squeezed by both the insurers and the government. Both would love to eliminate our jobs, but must reluctantly admit to our need in the marketplace.
The last calls are like the one I received Thursday from a man in his early 50’s. I don’t know why he is on Social Security Disability. It is none of my business. I insure his children. He called to complain about Obamacare. He spent almost ten minutes of my time complaining about a litany of villains – President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, weak Republicans, all Democrats, etc… His rant was as tiresome as it was inaccurate. He even ventured into the Takers and Job Creators territory. I tried my best to peel him off the ceiling, got bored, and gave up. There is nothing I could say that would solve his problems.
There are going to be significant computer issues with the new exchanges. Even registering to be an agent was a challenge. And the PPACA has real flaws. Some of those issues could have been resolved, in a bi-partisan fashion, over the last three years. But they weren’t. So we will muddle through and the problems, like a dented fender, will be eventually repaired. But nothing good will come from losing your temper or screaming. Working for solutions is the only way to accomplish solutions.
Or as Jeff might say, “Close your eyes and take a deep breath”.