Health Insurance Brokers Cut Through the Political Clutter

Posted: October 19, 2016  

Amy Mutter is the legislative chair of the Virginia Association of Health Underwriters and serves as a licensed insurance agent and customer service representative here at Innovative Insurance Group in Roanoke.

It is rare for a small business owner or an individual to have a candid face-to-face conversation with the health insurance company that safeguards their lives. But, as a health insurance broker, those conversations are a regular part of my day.

With the national election just weeks away, you can imagine what my clients and I are discussing over a cup of coffee. Our clients — many of whom say they are still undecided in who should be elected to the White House — are particularly concerned about what direction the next president will take this nation in regards to health care.

In my years as a health insurance broker, and as a leader in the Virginia Association of Health Underwriters (VAHU), I can not recall a time when our country was as polarized in its politics. That gaping span in most evident when it comes to quality, accessible health care, an ever-growing expense that many of my clients struggle to afford for their employees and their families.

For many, health care is now seen as a luxury, rather than an entitlement, as part of living in this great country. It is often used as a debate point between politicians, with the facts somehow muddied in rhetoric that leaves our clients confused and dismayed.

This election is a scary moment for our industry because there is such an unknown about the future. My clients seek consistency and predictability; the baseline for how to create a budget, and make personal and professional decisions that affect the lives of loved ones.

To my clients, the “winners” and “losers” of an election are not Democrat or Republican. Rather, they are real people, many with real health concerns, who win or lose, based on the ultimate counts in the ballot box.

I am fortunate to know more than most about health insurance; it is the benefit of being part of VAHU. But, in this election, I can’t provide the reassurance that things are not about to drastically change, once again.

Just one look at the candidates’ platforms and you will realize there could be a very different America when the next president is sworn in on Jan. 20.

Hillary Clinton is advocating for a continuation of the Affordable Care Act that President Barack Obama considers one of his most landmark achievements as the leader of the free world.

And then there is Donald Trump, who is demanding, with great flourish, that the federal law be abolished. And there are many, many opinions in between from our Virginia lawmakers about what is fair and necessary to provide affordable health care coverage to all who need it.

Specifically, Clinton wants to safeguard access to public coverage through Medicare or a public option, push for states to adopt an ACA Medicaid expansion and expand state waiver options. Trump, meanwhile, wants to return power to the states in regulating insurance markets, limit federal requirements on both private insurance and Medicaid and reconsider costly mandates.

You can see there is obviously plenty my clients and I need to discuss.

As a VAHU member and broker, I am proud to advocate for Virginia employers and families every day. I am pleased to explain the positions of the candidates and try to forecast what it all means for them. Unlike our candidates, I am afforded the opportunity to remain truly non-partisan.

My only constituents are my clients, and it is obvious what they expect from me: Be the most knowledgeable resource about America’s health care system, be a trusted, impartial resource and recognize that the client is always the most important person in the room.

Those are some basic rules that, perhaps, our elected lawmakers can live by once this political season comes to a close on Nov. 8.