Health Insurance Exchanges Should Not Be Like eHealthInsurance

September 20, 2010 in Affordable Health Insurance,, Health Care, Health Care Costs, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance Agent, Health Insurance Exchange, Health Insurance Quotes, Health Insurance Reform, Individual Health Insurance

Health Insurance Exchanges Should Not Be Like eHealthInsurance
By John Rueschenberg

Two months ago, I had a meeting with Mary, a director at a reputable health insurance company. Mary’s name has been changed and her company’s name will not be disclosed to protect her identity. Mary and I were talking about the different insurance agencies and the amount of production that they bring to her company each year. Not at all to my surprise, her number one producer of individual health plans was and has been eHealthInsurance. eHealthInsurance is the largest online insurance agency, owned by publicly traded company eHealth Inc. We have all seen their TV commercials for affordable health insurance. The truth is that the rates are no different if you apply using eHealthInsurance, another agency or if you apply directly to the company by yourself. It will be the same rate no matter what, but keep in mind that an agent can help you and keep you from making a costly mistake, so that is why you should always use an agent.

Most will agree, the ongoing history of publicly traded companies is to make a huge profit and achieve excellent numbers so that they can keep their stock holders happy. While some publicly traded companies do care about customer service, many others don’t. I have never been to the eHealthInsurance’s headquarters before nor have I spoken to someone who works for, or previously worked for the company, therefore I don’t know exactly how they operate. What I do know and can share with you are the experiences of others who have dealt with the company at one time or another.

In my meeting with Mary, she described eHealthInsurance as her double edged sword. They continually have brought Mary’s company the most new individual health business, but eHealthInsurance has had an ongoing history of not providing adequate service to their clientele after the policy is issued. Mary also said of the people who applied for one of her companies health plans using, that ongoing for years now, eHealthInsurance has had the highest percentage of policies not taken after an application was submitted. “Not taken” is an insurance term meaning someone applied, but for one reason or another the policy was never issued. Similar stories are out there on websites such as and other product or service review websites. Interestingly enough, one of the automatically generated search terms that Google gives is “eHealthInsurance scam.” The Better Business Business Bureau of North Eastern California alone has received 22 complaints in the past 36 months for eHealthInsurance.

Ordinarily, I’m not about attacking someone or a company and pointing out their flaws, but this has changed because EhealthInsurance has made the recommendation that the new health insurance exchanges starting up over the next few years should operate similar to how does now. While lack of service does sound like how most government agencies have long been operating; such as the Department of Motor Vehicle, the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration, the US population as a whole is not looking for health care to operate as another poorly serviced government agency.

There are other sites out there that do provide the same great online experience as eHealthInsurance, but also offer ongoing service for years to come. Websites like give you the same great online service as does, but they instead have an ongoing reputation of being there for you when sticky situations come along. It is important that the example of the health insurance exchanges follow the examples of agents and agencies who have built a solid reputation of being there after the policy is issued. The agent is the person who is supposed to be there for you at the hardest time, such as when dealing with a difficult claim, especially if you have to deal with multiple insurance companies. An agent helps you during the application process, prevents you from making a simple mistake that would otherwise hold up your application in underwriting for days or weeks longer than necessary, or cause for you to receive a higher premium. An agent can help prevent a decline or a rider. An agents advice and experience are both invaluable and free to the consumer.

Circumstance and claims often do happen where you are dealing with your health insurance company, your auto insurance insurance company and Workman’s Comp; all three at once, or two at the same time for the same injury or claim. More than likely, each company wants the other to pay the claim, so often times none of them pay. Your agent is there to get you through these unfortunate circumstances as your personal representative. Your agent is supposed to be on your side. They should help you figure out the mess and point you in the right direction. The example of health insurance exchanges should not be eHealthInsurance, but instead the example should be that of agents and agencies who have built a solid reputation of being there for their clients when they are needed.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) projects that the expense of health care would be 0.3% less by the year 2019 had the health care reform bill never passed. CMS also predicts health insurance exchanges are expected to cost roughly a total of $220 billion just to start up by 2014. Between 2014 through 2019, the health insurance exchanges are predicted to cost an additional $37.7 billion to operate. Roughly 85% of US health insurance policies are issued with the assistance of an agent. When you consider that about 85% of policies are issued using an agent, the duplicated efforts of exchanges will be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Eliminating the creation of the exchanges all together will save over $250 billion between now and 2019; health care savings would be seen and achieved much sooner. The creation of the health insurance exchanges will simply be a waste of time and taxpayer money, especially if they will be run like any other poorly serviced government agency. There is no reason to reinvent what has already been proven to work.

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