Cyber snafus cost brokers $800,000 in potential commissions

The federal health exchange isn't alone. In one state, producers estimate they’re losing about $800,000 due to website glitches



While producers struggle to enroll clients in health coverage through federal insurance exchanges, agents and brokers operating in states that designed their own online healthcare marketplaces are having much better luck—when their websites work.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case for producers in Nevada.

Ongoing website delays for the state’s Nevada Health Link are keeping producers from earning a potential $792,000 in commission, according to estimates from Reno-based brokerage MacLean Financial Group.

MacLean came up with the figure by multiplying Nevada’s 3,600 healthcare applications that are currently in play by the estimated $220 yearly commission for each individual client. Assuming every individual chose to seek producer help, that $800,000 could be divided among Nevada’s approximately 80 producers registered to sell insurance through Nevada Health Link, the state’s exchange program.

Instead, MacLean and other producers are waiting for the state to work out bugs on the site that prevent individuals from using the “broker portal,” which allows producers to enroll applicants and collect commission.
If the problems persist, MacLean believes its clients will choose to “go it alone” and register for health insurance through the individual portal, cutting them out of the process and costing them business.

Will McDonald, marketing director for MacLean, says the faulty portal has already lost the brokerage several potential customers.

“We lost 20 clients last week because we couldn’t get into the portal. It’s been one nightmare after another,” McDonald said. “Most people are saying ‘Screw it, we’re leaving. We’ll do it ourselves.”

McDonald said MacLean lost a potential $4,400 in commission from just one client—owners of Reno-area convenience stores who employ about four people in each of their 20 stores. The Nevada Health Link website malfunctioned while brokers were trying to get quotes for the client, and the client chose to walk away and register through the individual portal.

 “This is a tough undertaking and none of us said it would be easy, but they’ve had a couple years to get this going,” McDonald said. “We’re just a little frustrated. We get calls on this all day long.”


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