My name is Bill Bryan and my wife and I are licensed health insurance agents — and more importantly, certified Marketplace agents — in Raleigh, North Carolina (I use the term ‘Marketplace’ instead of ‘Exchange’ because it’s a more accurate term). Freelancer has invited me to be a guest blogger here, and it’s a privilege to be able to participate. I’ll be writing about what’s happening in the world of the Affordable Care Act in my neck of the woods. In North Carolina, the state decided not to open its own Marketplace, so ours is officially known as an “FFM” for “federally facilitated marketplace”.
There are two insurance companies which will be participating in the Marketplace in North Carolina: Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Coventry. As of today, I’m appointed to represent only Blue Cross/Blue Shield. We’ll be applying for appointments by Coventry next week, and the company for which my wife and I work (we run our own operation but with the support and direction of a bigger agency) assures us that obtaining that appointment will be routine.
At this time the Blue Cross/Blue Shield website is not fully integrated with the FFM, but that is supposed to be finished in the next few days. Coventry isn’t going to be directly connected, but with BCBS, we should be able to begin an application on the BCBS website, and after completing a few screens of the application we’ll be automagically transported to the FFM to apply and qualify for a subsidy (which is really a tax credit, but we’re calling it a subsidy); then after learning the amount of the subsidy we’ll be returned to the BCBS website to finish selecting a policy and completing the application. Right now the BCBS website is working pretty much perfectly, but they haven’t managed to finish the connection to the FFM. We’ve been talking to a lot of people and giving informational seminars, but we haven’t managed to enroll anyone yet. It won’t be long, though.
The BCBS bigwigs have been enormously enthusiastic about the ACA; the only complaint I’ve heard from them is that adult dental care should be considered an Essential Health Benefit. They’ve also been extremely good about keeping us agents out in the field informed of progress. They give us, if anything, too much useful information, which is sometimes hard to absorb. They really give us the feeling of being part of an energetic and competent team.
In any event, that’s my introduction, and now I have to get ready for the Duke v. Navy football game today (my dad is an Annapolis grad from ’49). I’ll leave you with a photo of me (lower right) answering the phones at a local TV station, giving answers to the public about the Affordable Care Act.