This blog post is based on an interview with Lynn Schreder, Co-Owner of KHI Solutions. It has been posted with her approval and permission.
Note: AB denotes AgencyBloc and LS denotes Lynn Schreder
Continuing with our Expert Series blogs, I had the opportunity to ask Lynn Schreder, Co-Owner of KHI Solutions, about the changing marketplace and how agencies can navigate the chaos to prepare for 2018. Thank you, Lynn, for your time and contribution!
AgencyBloc: How is the uncertainty of subsidy payments for marketplace plans in 2018 affecting your agency?
Lynn Schreder: I would make that question broader, will we have one or two options available to Iowans in 2018? Will we get our stop gap measure approved? If not, we will have only one carrier left and the subsidies will be critical in order to keep individual premiums reasonable. We’re feeling good about the stop gap measure because our letter of completeness has been received. The Iowa stop gap measure has three key components:
- The state offers one plan that’s rated silver, not great, but not bad, for one year to all 99 counties.
- Levels of premium assistance for everyone, no matter their age or income.
- A reinsurance mechanism for insurance companies to secure them in the case of catastrophic claims.
This addition would attract Wellmark back into the individual market in Iowa. Healthcare.gov would be eliminated from Iowa and the state would manage this plan with participating insurance companies. We are hopeful that this measure will pass Washington approval.
AB: If subsidies are not paid in 2018, what does this mean for your agency & clients?
LS: Subsidies are being paid, but “cost share reductions” are what is being threatened. If Iowa’s stop gap is not approved, individuals who do not qualify for a subsidy may not purchase insurance because it will not be financially feasible for them to do so.
Can we help entrepreneurs? We are working with several of our individual policyholders to write “groups of one” policies. Some carriers allow for this under the right circumstances, so we are able to eliminate the jeopardy of loss of insurance for those that qualify. The good news is that individual policies only make up about 7% of the overall healthcare market. The employer group market is strong as ever and we are training agents to write groups of one; we are busier than we’ve ever been, and morale is high. In reality, this situation is requiring agencies and owners to get creative and think outside the box for solutions to better serve their clients.
AB: What do you see as the most likely scenario for change in health insurance coverage in 2018, if any, and how would you tell other agency owners to prepare?
LS: I think more states could begin filing for waivers and eventually each state will gain more control over its healthcare market. Understanding what is happening in your state at every step of the game is as important as keeping up with the politics in Washington. Your clients are impacted by both and rely on you to think ahead for them.
AB: What is your favorite thing about your career and would you recommend joining the industry to young people and why?
LS: I get such satisfaction in helping people through the confusion of health care coverage. I am passionate about mentoring and helping agents grow so more people get the assistance they need.
As for young people...we need them! Growth via younger agents is slow...we talk about succession planning all the time and take it very seriously. I’m very encouraged to see insurance programs popping up in several state colleges and universities. Ultimately I would say this is a career for someone who leads by serving...if you find you are called to help others, this may be the path for you!
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Image Source: Lynn Schreder, KHI Solutions