By Coleen Elkins
Competition in any industry is a very good thing. In 2015 more insurance carriers will be participating in the federal and state exchanges. The creative juices will flow with benefit designs and supplemental benefit offerings to entice you to insure with "them". It will also help pricing be a little more competitive. Don't expect too much variance on the pricing though as the government has strict margins set for the medical loss ratio.
Hopefully another improvement you will see is access to customer service. Because there was little competition this year for the carriers participating they were overwhelmed for the most part. Customers calling in experienced extremely long hold times and disconnected calls and some short tempers. Issues took weeks and even months to resolve. Some are still waiting.
Last year insurance carriers were fighting a headwind of unknown factors. We expect 2015 to be calmer.
The marketplace can be confusing especially if you are participating in the subsidy program. The best thing you can do is seek the services of a licensed agent certified to assist you with the insurance exchange. Agents will know who the new players are and their strength and offerings for 2015. You can find an agent in your area by visiting The National Association of Health Underwriters website here.