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Brokers are reluctant players in challenging health care coverage enrollment season

Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

Lee Nathans, like insurance brokers in many states, expects to be crazy busy for the next several weeks, fielding calls from "people who are not going to be happy."

Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act coverage started Nov. 1, and the approximately 10 million people who buy their own health insurance are only now getting a look at what's being offered. It's daunting.

"There will be a lot of people who will need to use a broker," said Nathans, of Columbus, Ohio.

The enrollment period is also shorter than in previous years, ending Dec. 15.

In many places, there are fewer health insurance carriers offering coverage -- and those that remain have sharply raised prices and changed their networks of doctors and hospitals.

More perplexing for people sifting through these options is the fact that this year there's less on-the-ground assistance to help decode those complexities because of Trump administration funding cuts.

 

All that means brokers are coping with what may be the most challenging sign-up period since the ACA marketplaces, also known as exchanges, debuted in 2014.

When the ACA became law, some thought the days of brokers were numbered.

The ACA's rules and online state and federal exchanges were supposed to make comparing plans and purchasing health insurance easier.

But for many consumers -- particularly those who have never bought insurance before -- having help is vital.

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