The Oregon state is among the few select states that are aggressively moving ahead with their Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) implementation plans. Last week, the Oregon exchange implementers revealed that the Oregon state would be employing the services of insurance agents to help individuals and small businesses purchase their insurance through the state health insurance exchange.In the present setup many small businesses, individuals and families rely on the services of an insurance agent or insurance brokerage firm for purchasing insurance. With their subject matter expertise, insurers play an important role in guiding and advising people on the best-fit insurance plans based on consumers’ health profile or financial needs. When the PPACA law had been signed in 2010, it had been feared that establishment of health insurance exchanges would render the services of brokers’, redundant. But brokers enjoy deep penetration in the individual and small business markets and exchanges stand to benefit from the brokers’ customer outreach.Oregon exchange supervisors believe that employing the services of agents and brokers would ensure that exchange would be able to reach people throughout the state in a cost-efficient manner. There are around 13,000 licensed agents that operate in the state of Oregon and availing the services of these agents would help exchanges spread the word about the state health insurance exchange and the various health options available, even before the health insurance exchange comes into operation.The exchange is presently receiving federal grant that is helping the state proceed ahead with its state insurance exchange but for successful implementation of health insurance exchanges, the states would need large number of health insurance exchange enrollments for self-sustenance. If there are not enough enrollments in the state insurance exchange, most insurers selling health insurance would be reluctant to join the exchange which would defeat the purpose behind setting up insurance exchanges – best value health care at affordable costs.From the state exchanges’ business plan, a 2.52 % administrative fee – equivalent to $16 – levied per enrollee would be sufficient for the exchange to sustain itself once the federal grants stop in 2014. However, to achieve this figure, the Oregon health insurance exchanges must see enrollment numbers between 100,000 and 125,000 within one year of state health insurance exchange coming into operation.The agents working with the exchange will receive their work compensation from the exchange itself, which will charge commissions from insurance companies and would pay the employed agents directly. Agents employed with the exchange are expected to receive a special training from the Oregon state insurance exchange which would also include training on the health plans that will be sold through the exchange. Detailed knowledge of health plans would help insurance agents service their clients’ better and provide them well-informed advices on the best-value insurance plan.Agents participating in the Oregon State insurance exchange would also need to sign a contract which would contain details of agents’ job responsibilities and working relationship with the exchange. 

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