Twenty-five members of the House recently asked federal health regulators to guarantee a role for licensed insurance agents in a new web portal that will be used to help consumers compare coverage options.
The web portal was unveiled by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month on a trial basis, with more comprehensive information scheduled to be added on Oct. 1.
The portal is considered a precursor to the health insurance exchanges that will be launched in 2014 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
According to the letter from the House members, "We strongly encourage you to include the ability for consumers to contact certified, state-licensed independent health insurance agents and brokers for assistance when comparing coverage options. It is important the consumer's options to contact independent and state-licensed health insurance agents and brokers be included no later than Oct.1."
The letter was signed by eight Democrats and 17 Republicans.
"It is our belief that consumers will benefit from this arrangement and will respond positively to the new portal method of purchasing health insurance if they are able to access the personalized service of an insurance agent or broker," the letter said.