The Health Insurance Hustle

“Who’s at fault here? It’s not the broker. It’s not the insurance company either. It’s the plan sponsor who makes the system possible for what it is. They are in a position of power which most don’t understand they have. They should dominate the equation. A dominant fee based and experienced insurance advisor helps them do just that. “Me Too” fee based insurance advisors don’t. The later works for fees, the former works on principle.” – Bill Rusteberg

Behind the Scenes, Health Insurers Use Cash and Gifts to Sway Which Benefits Employers Choose

The insurance industry gives lucrative commissions and bonuses — from six-figure payouts to a chance to bat against Mariano Rivera — to the independent brokers who advise employers. Critics call the payments a “classic conflict of interest” that drive up costs.

by Marshall Allen


The Confounding Way We Pay for Care

This story was co-published with NPR’s Shots blog.

The pitches to the health insurance brokers are tantalizing.

“Set sail for Bermuda,” says insurance giant Cigna, offering top-selling brokers five days at one of the island’s luxury resorts.

Health Net of California’s pitch is not subtle: A smiling woman in a business suit rides a giant $100 bill like it’s a surfboard. “Sell more, enroll more, get paid more!” In some cases, its ad says, a broker can “power up” the bonus to $150,000 per employer group.

Not to be outdone, New York’s EmblemHealth promises top-selling brokers “the chance of a lifetime”: going to bat against the retired legendary New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera. In another offer, the company, which bills itself as the state’s largest nonprofit plan, focuses on cash: “The more subscribers you enroll … the bigger the payout.” Bonuses, it says, top out at $100,000 per group, and “there’s no limit to the number of bonuses you can earn.

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Behind the Scenes, Health Insurers Use Cash and Gifts to Sway Which Benefits Employers Choose — ProPublica