In its most simple 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 they provide you that fall under the umbrella of selling health insurance. Here are some of the most important:
- Perhaps the most important fact to know about working with an agent is that it's free. Insurance agents are paid by insurance carriers, not by consumers. So don't worry about having to pay some service fee for signing up for a plan with an agent, because it will cost you nothing more than if you were to do it yourself
- Health insurance is confusing, and an agent will explain it to you until it makes sense. Ask all the questions you want, that's what they're there for. Want to know what your coinsurance will be on a certain plan? Want to know what coinsurance even means? Ask away!
- An agent can help you compare plans that you're interested in. When you let an agent know what it is you're looking for, they will narrow down your possibilities and explain the benefits of each. They can check to see if your doctors and preferred medical facilities are in-network, and they can just to see if any 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 you can contact when you have questions or even when you want to shop around for a new plan. You've got someone in your corner, as opposed to just winging it and picking out a plan on your own.
Because I'm sure you don't want to be here reading all day, those are only a few of the biggest benefits of using a licensed agent to buy health insurance. That's not even including how much time and frustration an agent can save you (we'll save that for another article!).
To make it even more convenient for you, many brokers have the ability to access plans that are both on and off-exchange (government-run Marketplaces for health insurance). This provides you with even more options. Additionally, for agents who can access on-exchange plans, they can also determine your subsidy eligibility that can lower your premium and out-of-pocket expenses. Again, saving you yet another headache.
The next time you need to enroll in or change a health plan, keep a licensed agent in mind- it won't cost you anything, but it will certainly save you a lot.