Agent associations provide consumer assistance for Md. exchange

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Three insurance agent associations have partnered with the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to help state residents enroll in health insurance plans either through the state’s online health insurance exchange — Maryland Health Connection — or directly with insurance carriers.

The National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors of Maryland (NAIFA-Maryland), the Maryland Association of Health Underwriters (MAHU), and the Insurance Agents & Brokers Service Group (IA&B) announced the working program with the state agency after the agency approved the groups’ proposal.

Through the Producer Referral Program, approximately 55 brokers spread across the state have volunteered to accept referrals from consumers who want the assistance of a local insurance broker in navigating the website or enrolling directly with carriers.

The referral service will operate until the exchange website is fully functional. The referral service will use the toll-free telephone number of NAIFA-Maryland – 877-304-9934 — which will also be posted on the exchange website. Exchange employees will also be informed of this referral service, and applicants who inquire about the availability of local brokers will be directed to the toll-free number.

NAIFA-Maryland, MAHU and IA&B say they are participating in this project because, as producers, they have always believed that the most important goal in health care reform is to obtain coverage for people who need it.

When it comes to small businesses, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Board has officially pushed back the launch of a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange enrollment website until Jan. 1, 2015, and the SHOP itself will not open until April 1.

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