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Thursday, Aug 18, 2022

For Agents, State Hikes Commissions

Health insurance marketplace Covered California announced that three of its largest carriers – Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross – will increase the amount they pay to insurance agents by an estimated $22 million annually.  

Agents, who provide independent assistance to people seeking health care coverage in the individual market, will have their payment increase take effect at the start of 2022, benefiting more than 10,000 of them in the state.  

The increased compensation will come at no additional cost to consumers, as Covered California agents are paid through monthly premiums that the carriers receive.  

“It was early 2019 when we bought our first analysis (of agent commission trends) back to our board and found that even though more people were relying on agents to help them through this process, and have in-person meetings, agent compensation (was) declining,” James Scullary, Covered California’s broadcast and media relations branch chief, said.    

Covered California made an effort to increase agent compensation to ensure that agents as an enrollment channel would stay for consumers. Agents enroll around half of Covered California’s consumers.  

“We know that a great many people still enjoy in-person assistance,” Scullary said. “It’s free, it’s confidential, you can have someone sit down with you and explain your options and go through the process. And they do a host of other things in terms of making sure that you get the most out of your coverage.”  

The compensation increase is 17 percent more than current levels and will bring the total compensation provided by carriers to agents to more than $125 million a year. For the agents who have 10 or more Covered California consumers, which is more than 6,000, the increase will represent a $3,300 average increase in their annual compensation.  

George Balteria is the chief executive of Collective Choice Insurance Solutions. The regional insurance enroller has around 35 agents and has worked with Covered California for more than five years.  

Balteria said Anthem and Kaiser had a particularly low rate. “It would be below what would be considered, let’s say, a livable wage,” he said. “So the change, particularly with those two carriers, made a big jump (for agents).”  


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