The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has informed the Big “I” that consumers seeking assistance in selecting health plans on the federal exchange will now have the ability to search for registered agents and brokers.
The federal exchange website previously provided consumers with contact information for navigators, certified application counselors and other assisters. But many observers have regarded the absence of similar agent and broker information as a conspicuous and controversial oversight.
The contact information for registered agents and brokers is currently scheduled for addition to the search engine this evening. In order to search for an agent or broker who has completed the registration process and is eligible to offer plans via the exchange, consumers can click on the “Find Local Help” link on the HealthCare.gov website or go directly to the designated Web page. Agents and brokers will also have the ability to amend and revise their information on the website (see instructions below).
The welcome news of these exchange website enhancements comes just days before the Nov. 15 launch of the latest annual enrollment period. Agents and brokers will once again play an important role in the enrollment process. The HHS reports that more than 51,000 insurance producers have already completed the required federal exchange registration process for the 2015 plan year.
Here’s how an agent or broker can change his or her displayed information on “Find Local Help.”
- The "Find Local Help" feature of HealthCare.gov (https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/) lists contact information for individual agents and brokers or agent and broker businesses that have successfully completed the registration requirements for the Federally Facilitated Marketplaces.
- On the “Find Local Help” page, after entering location information and answering one question about their situation, consumers will see a list of assisters in their area. On the left side of the screen, under “Manage Your Results,” consumers can click on a “toggle switch” to add agents and brokers to the search results.
If you would like to edit your contact information on the “Find Local Help” page, you will need to update your Medicare Learning Network (MLN) profile by completing the following steps:
- Log in to the MLN website (https://Marketplace.MedicareLearningNetworkLMS.com).
- Locate your name at the top right corner of the page.
- Click your name. A drop-down list will appear. Select “My Account.”
- Click the “Edit” button under “User Information” on the left side of the page.
- Update the information you wish to change. Click “Save.”
Updating the MLN profiles is critical because the agent and broker contact information in the "Find Local Help" feature of HealthCare.gov will be updated weekly using this MLN data. It may take up to one week for updates to appear online.
If you would like to be removed from the “Find Local Help” display, send an email to FFMProducer-AssisterHelpDesk@cms.hhs.gov and provide the following information:
- First and last name
- National producer number
- MLN user ID
- Email address
- Written statement requesting that your information be removed from “Find Local Help”
Again, please allow one week for removal.
If you require additional assistance related to the display of your information on “Find Local Help,” contact FFMProducer-AssisterHelpDesk@cms.hhs.gov.
Wyatt Stewart is Big “I” director of federal government affairs. Wes Bissett is Big “I” outside senior counsel of government affairs.