In its simplest definition, a health insurance broker (also commonly known as an agent) is someone who is licensed to sell health insurance. However, there are many other services that provide you that are under the umbrella of health insurance sales. These are some of the most important:
- Perhaps the most important fact you should know about working with an agent is that it is free. Insurance agents are paid by insurance companies, not consumers. So do not worry about having to pay a service fee to enroll in a plan with an agent, because it will cost you nothing more than if you did it yourself
- Health insurance is confusing, and an agent will explain it until it makes sense. Ask all the questions you want, that’s what they are there for. Want to know what your coinsurance will be in a given plan? Want to know what coinsurance means? Ask away!
- An agent can help you compare the plans that interest you. When you tell an agent what you are looking for, you will reduce your chances and explain the benefits of each. They can check if your doctors and preferred medical facilities are in the network, and can see if the prescriptions you take are covered (and how much).
- Your agent is your agent as long as you have your policy. This means that you have someone whom you can contact when you have questions or even when you want to shop around for a new plan. You have someone in your corner, instead of just flying it and choosing a plan on your own.
Since I’m sure you don’t want to be here reading all day, those are just some of the biggest benefits of using a licensed agent to buy health insurance. That doesn’t even include how much time and frustration an agent can save you (we’ll save it for another article!).
To make it even more convenient for you, many brokers have the ability to access plans that are both inside and outside the stock market (Marketplaces for government-managed health insurance). This gives you even more options. In addition, for agents who can access exchange plans, they can also determine their subsidy eligibility that can reduce their premium and out-of-pocket costs. Again, saving you another headache.
The next time you need to enroll or change a health plan, consider a licensed agent, it will cost you nothing, but it will certainly save you a lot.