Issue Briefs | Jun 19, 2014

Understanding the Potential Role Web Brokers Can Play in State-Based Marketplaces

Manatt Health Solutions – Joel Ario and Allison Garcimonde, and Wakely Consulting Group – Jon Kingsdale

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already greatly expanding individual health insurance coverage, particularly among lower-income uninsured individuals.  However, this is neither easy nor inexpensive to sustain, and it will require ongoing, effective public-private partnerships on multiple levels.  One potential partnership opportunity is with “web brokers” who sell individual health insurance online, functioning as private distribution channels in a fashion similar to the new Marketplaces and offering a choice of health plans from multiple insurers, while relying primarily on websites and call centers for customer service.  This brief, prepared by Manatt Health Solutions and Wakely Consulting Group, seeks to understand the role that web brokers might occupy in this continuously developing landscape, and is intended as a tool for State-Based Marketplaces (SBMs) to investigate potential opportunities for partnerships with these entities.  An executive summary of this issue brief provides an overview of this topic, including descriptions of five leading web brokers, a summary of the evolution of federal policy on web brokers, and potential SBM approaches for contracting with web brokers.