The Great Unwinding: The Opportunity For Brokers

The COVID-19 public health emergency is expected to end early in 2023, which means that next year will be marked by millions of Americans having to be determined eligible to continue to receive Medicaid benefits.

According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, an estimated 5.3 million to 14.2 million Americans could lose their Medicaid coverage when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.

Under the public health emergency declaration, more Americans became eligible for Medicaid. In addition, states were required to provide continuous coverage for those who were enrolled in Medicaid on or after March 18, 2020. After the public health emergency ends, each state must determine whether these Medicaid enrollees are eligible to re-enroll in coverge.

Could The Great Unwinding be an opportunity for health insurance brokers? Leaders of two health insurance brokers’ associations discussed a possible role for brokers during a webinar conducted by InsuranceNewsNet in June.

‘A huge opportunity’

“This is going to create a huge opportunity for people who are on Medicaid and may no longer be qualified to be on Medicaid, because of those special rules during the public health emergency,” said Marcy Buckner, senior vice president of government affairs with the National Association of Health Underwriters “And because they’ve just experienced health insurance. What we see is once people have health insurance, they like it. They want to keep it, they want to enroll. So those folks are going to be positioned to go into the individual market, most likely. And most likely will also be eligible for a subsidy in the exchange.”

Buckner said NAHU is educating its members on the unwinding process.

“We’re discussing what is the best way to discuss options with this very specific population and what potential there is for them go on to an individual plan,” she said.

NAHU’s education foundation also has produced a short video, emphasizing the importance of meeting the various deadlines for enrolling in coverage.

“That’s important because we want to make sure we don’t have any gaps in coverage between someone being in Medicaid and going onto an individual plan,” Buckner said.

Ronnell Nolan, president and CEO of Health Agents for America, urged her association’s members to “watch very carefully, pay attention, know when it’s happening in your state.”

Will look to insurance professionals

She said that when Medicaid beneficiaries receive their letter stating that their coverage will end on a particular date, they will look to an insurance professional to discuss their options.

“You need to be prepared to help that person,” she said.

Nolan said many Medicaid beneficiaries may qualify for an individual plan on the Affordable Care Act exchange, and brokers can help them enroll.

“But you know as agents, you need to find out, is their doctor covered? Is their medicine covered? Are they in the right plan that works for them? Is it a price that they can afford?”

Nolan suggested her members could be resources for those who will need help in The Great Unwinding by positioning themselves as experts in the community, offering themselves for local media interviews on the topic.

“Reach out to your local media, getting on those TV and radio shows, let folks know that this is going to happen. And let them know that when it happens, there’s no reason to be concerned. Agents and brokers are educated, they’re licensed, they’re knowledgeable. They know how to handle this.”


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