Professional Insurance Agents Thank Rep. Duncan Hunter for Asking Tough Healthcare Questions about Navigators
Letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius Asks About Oversight, Licensing, Consumer Protections
WASHINGTON — The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) thanks Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) for taking the lead in raising significant concerns regarding healthcare Navigators with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
In a June 7 letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Rep. Hunter and 32 other Members of Congress focused on the need for consumer protections, the fact that Navigators are not required to be licensed or carry liability insurance to protect consumers against errors or omissions (as Professional Insurance Agents are), and the need for appropriate oversight.
The letter notes that missing from HHS’s proposed rule governing Navigators and non-Navigator assisters is ensuring clients will receive information on the best possible plan that best suits their individual needs, whether that plan is available in the Marketplaces or through the traditional market, then notes that Navigators will not be allowed to assist with determining the appropriate plan. PIA noted that while it is appropriate that unlicensed Navigators or assisters not be permitted to make plan recommendations, this puts the consumer in the position of lacking needed information.
“According to the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, this scenario can be expected to be common and it is our position that the complexities of these plans is best handled by those who are trained and state-certified to sell such products—licensed insurance agents or brokers,” the letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius notes.
“Additionally, insurance agents and brokers carry Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance to protect not just themselves but consumers from any accidental wrongdoing. In the event that an error occurs, consumers have recourse to recoup any losses that they may have endured. It is our understanding that your Department will not recommend E&O coverage for Navigators, resulting in possible large gaps in consumer protections.”
The lawmakers go on to pose a series of questions to Sebelius. They also note that the ACA preserves state regulatory authority of insurance and that many state legislatures have passed legislation that will strengthen consumer protections, such as further defining the role of a Navigator.
“The letter prompts HHS to provide the Department’s perspective on key areas of consumer protection, including inquiries into background checks, training and oversight,” said Mike Becker, vice president of federal affairs for PIA. "We greatly appreciate Congress’ recognition of the critical exposure to stringent consumer protections and the valued role agents and brokers provide. We look forward to continuing our work on this matter.”
Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street AmericaSM. PIA’s web address is www.pianet.com.