New Rules May Make Online Health Insurance Sales Simpler

Some people using brokers to buy insurance through will no longer have to go through a multi-step process to enroll.

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Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Signing up for coverage on the health insurance marketplace should be easier for some people this fall because new federal rules will allow brokers and insurers to handle the entire enrollment process online, from soup to nuts.

Some consumer advocates are concerned, though, that customers going this route won’t get the comprehensive, impartial plan information they need to make the best decision due to the financial self-interest of insurers and brokers.

“Facilitating the participation of brokers and getting web brokers involved is a good thing for the market,” says Timothy Jost, an emeritus professor of health care law at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia. But he says there are risks for consumers. “If you’re enrolling with a web broker, you could see ‘best deals’ that often aren’t the best deal for you but are the best deal for the people who are marketing them.”

The guidance was released May 17 by the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services, which oversees the online marketplaces. It will streamline the enrollment process for people who work directly with an insurer or broker to shop

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