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REALTORS and Health Insurance Reform

Written by Frank Welsh, Sr on Friday, 13 December 2013 12:56 pm
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The ongoing debate about health insurance reform includes many actors, both political and financial, but it demands another contribution - one that is integral to the overall strength of the economy and the vitality of independent contractors everywhere - and that voice belongs to Realtors®. As a profession, Realtors have a duty, because of their collective influence and dual role as either business owners or entrepreneurs, to offer their input concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). That commitment, aided by the counsel of insurance experts, can be a model for other industries to follow -- for the good of the country as a whole.

I offer this advice from experience, in my role as Founder of Lookout Alliance, Inc., which represents insurance brokers who work with all eligible citizens, as I understand the challenges facing Realtors and the regional or national brands they represent. I also write these words without partisan rancor - I come to neither celebrate nor condemn the Act - because the complexity of this issue demands analysis, not political gamesmanship and further distraction. Simply stated, Realtors - brokers, agents and all self-employed or independent contractors - need to know about all their options, from the Act itself to the innovative opportunities available through the use of private exchanges as a means to insure workers, save money and preserve (or enhance) quality coverage.

Realtors must be at the vanguard of this discussion, but, to date, knowledge of any alternatives to the Act - recognition that these choices even exist - remains scant. The fault lies in the confusion of complexity, the overwhelming amount of data, various difficulties - including problems accessing HealthCare.Gov, the online portal for the Act - which results in one common response, across all businesses and among all types of workers: Inaction.

Unfortunately, passivity is unrealistic - and unacceptable - since the Act is a matter of settled law and an individual requirement. These facts do not, however, mandate that Realtors follow (and pay to enroll in) a top-down "solution" that does not reflect the nuances and goals of the real estate industry, either on a state-by-state basis or throughout the country as a whole. The duty shifts, therefore, to one of education and innovation. The former is an undertaking insurance brokers welcome, while the latter is proof of that schooling: Greater familiarity with and use of private exchanges.

Indeed, the mission of Lookout Alliance, Inc., as exemplified by the brokers affiliated with our company, is clarity in every form, to every end -- for ease-of-explanation, analysis, interpretation and intelligibility. For, if Realtors choose to make compliance with the law a priority - if they choose to purchase health insurance, rather than pay a fine or suffer a penalty - then the thanks belongs, in part, to the role of the broker-as-teacher. Such a teacher has a minimum of three years of experience and full licensure, to inform Realtors, office managers and top performers of their options.

There is also an overlap between brokers and Realtors involving the way they communicate to each other, in which creating a strong bond with clients is part of a larger effort beyond the confines of a profit and loss (P&L) sheet. Put a different way, the numbers are symbols; they do not represent the men and women - the brokers’ trusted confidantes - who defy neat encapsulation by an algorithm or reducibility to an equation.

And finally, the trust component is neither a slogan nor marketing boilerplate. It confirms the truth of teaching, observable by increased efficiency, and client satisfaction

The goal is to have brokers speak to Realtors, making the real estate industry the ideal for other professionals and executives to follow. These values champion the best of our industry and the excellence of our profession. If we can solve this challenge, cooperatively and successfully, then we can increase enrollment, expand coverage, promote competition and avoid the pratfalls of joining public exchanges.

Realtors have a moral responsibility to explore this option and join this debate. By their industry influence alone, change is afoot. Now is the time size this chance.

Frank Welsh, Sr. is the President of Lookout Alliance, Inc., a group of insurance brokers that represents all eligible candidates nationwide. This family based company has been devoted to giving their clients honest and trustworthy information with supreme service for the last 17 years.
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