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A Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery: Health Insurance Reform and The Real Estate Industry

Written by Frank Welsh, Sr on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 11:54 am
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Opinion and Commentary:

The real estate industry, which constitutes 13% of gross domestic product (GDP), is the great riddle of health insurance reform: Solving this mystery, a grand enigma, which I have addressed here before, is not only a verdict about the Affordable Care Act (ACA); it is a statement - stamped, certified and vouchsafed by media and industry experts alike - involving the economy as a whole, whether genuine reform is possible and efficiency is attainable.

If residential brokers, millions of them, do not have good, affordable coverage, then the greatest single piece of legislation in 50-years will collapse; itself a metaphor for poorly constructed housing in general, where fractures widen and a foundation weakens, until the entire edifice is nothing but rubble.

That option is neither acceptable nor desirable, which is why there is an alternative to the current system: Private exchanges, which enable employers to provide quality health insurance without excessive costs or penalties.

And, since most real estate brokers are independent contractors working for a franchisee or satellite office of a national firm, new requirements - the federal demand that citizens purchase health insurance - means the real estate profession is about to undergo massive change.

In my experience, as the Founder of Lookout Alliance, Inc. which represents insurance brokers who work with eligible citizens seeking coverage, we must streamline and demystify this process.

The same rule applies to states like Arizona and Nevada, in which there is an active housing market, as well as many distressed properties - areas with a weak recovery, which could turn red and even plummet, unless there is a suitable solution to the insurance issue.

And yes, the mission is that important - and the price of failure is that extreme - because, if the real estate industry does not take the lead on this matter - and have insurance experts counsel and customize plans through these private exchanges - then great harm will befall the reputations of even the most prestigious realty firms.

The public will look at this event as a failure of the Act, on the one hand; and a loss of will by agencies to uphold the principles of trust, community, integrity and innovation, on the other: The deflation of those ideals into meaningless buzzwords is the rhetorical cotton candy of advertising, which satisfies a sweet tooth and rots the mouth.

Indeed, it is this idea of rot - a rotten home, betrayed by easy money and fevered speculation; and a rotten mouth, decayed by unfulfilled promises and cheap slogans - that can devastate the realty business. Does this mean we must embrace the Act, and endure the tedium of registering and buying a plan on HealthCare.Gov, the official portal for government-run exchanges, and trumpet the wonders of Washington, DC? The question asks and answers itself. But we must nonetheless do something.

Guidance from a Veteran Insurance Broker: Private Exchanges and Efficiency for Real Estate Agencies

I return to this point about working with veteran insurance brokers for a reason. They do not have an interest in selling - and they will not try to push - a generic product, for a specific problem, at an inflexible cost. That exercise defeats the purpose of using a private exchange, where choice is paramount and diversity of pricing is significant, in comparison to the top-down approach of the Act and the ensuing fury of citizens nationwide.

With a sudden spike in premiums or a crushing loss of coverage, these victims - there is no other word to describe a people besieged - want to buy health insurance - immediately - with the aid of an expert.

Also, a point of clarification: I write these words without any partisan animus towards the White House or President Obama, without any rancor for this conservative or that liberal, because few things of this magnitude are easy or manageable.

Politics is the art of the possible, while industry (or entrepreneurship) is the practice of achieving the improbable: Watching Steve Jobs revolutionize music, the phone and computer, or following Bill Gates's goal to improve the world - with vaccines against deadly diseases, sanitation for good hygiene and foreign aid for developing nations.

Inspired by that commitment to innovation, private exchanges offer opportunities - for realty firms and brokers - to succeed. My advice to real estate agencies and executives is, to borrow the phrasing of my own company, to form an alliance - and be on the lookout for - insightful insurance experts, who will study a firm's culture, its core values and goals.

These brokers, and the private exchanges they navigate, can save the real estate industry from calamity. With the right solution, at the right price, health insurance can be the right of everyone - without interference from anyone.

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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