By Brian M. Kalish
June 18, 2012
Industry groups are being proactive in preparing their membership for the Supreme Court’s ruling on health care reform — which is expected at any time — as they know no matter the ruling, the business has changed forever.
At the National Association of Health Underwriters they have readied their membership by covering the topic across numerous mediums, including weekly e-newsletters, town halls and web seminars, says Jessica Waltman, NAHU’s SVP of government affairs.
After the decision comes out, NAHU members will want to know what will happen, Waltman says, adding she believes the ruling may come out during the organization’s annual convention, which begins June 24 in Las Vegas, so they are making plans to have plenty of time to discuss it.
“We need to inform our membership, so we have a variety of information tools that we are preparing that cover the eventualities as far as we can see them,” she says. “We believe no matter the ruling; [our] members will start receiving calls from their clients. … Our goal is to have tools at the ready so they can best assist their clients.”
The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers is taking a similar approach, and has already had discussions with its membership about the potential impact of the ruling, says Scott Sinder, partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and The Council’s general counsel.
The Council and its attorneys at Steptoe & Johnson LLP “have folks anxiously awaiting and ready to read the opinions,” and the organization intends to send notice to its members within hours of the ruling that reports on “the big picture,” which will be followed up with more in depth analysis within 24-28 hours.
A series of web seminars, including an initial one for its membership and a second one for members to share with their clients, will follow.
One broker, who says he started his business expecting health care reform, says he’s enjoyed watching the buildup to the ruling. “In the last three to four months it’s been interesting to see brokers still holding onto that hope that we’re going to go back five or six years and broker commissions will go back up and we’re not going to have government involvement in health care. But I don’t see that scenario occurring,” says Reid Rasmussen, owner of Benefit Brainstorm, Inc, adding he believes 30% of brokers will leave the business in the next two years.
“That will open opportunity up to the insurance professionals that are still left figure out how to better serve their clients,” he says. “Smart agents are expanding their horizons and serving their client better than ever before. … It’s not going to make a difference in the end what the Supreme Court rules.”
Even so, Waltman says, NAHU cannot wait for the ruling to come out, as presently “it’s very difficult to plan anything and it affects a lot of our dealings [and] feelings. … It affects everything we are doing.”
“Just having the closure will be very helpful,” she adds. “I think we are looking for that and then we can plan accordingly. No matter what the Court does … there needs to be changes to market reform in the coming year.”