Agents Beat Navigators, CMS Head Says
Seema Verma, administrator of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) programs, told Congress on Oct. 23 that she believes that agents and brokers have been better at getting people to sign up for coverage through HealthCare.gov than nonprofit navigators have been. “We looked at the numbers, and we found that the navigator programs weren’t reaching their goals,” according to Verma. “Sometimes we were spending $5,000, or $7,000, per person for these navigator programs.”
Initially, the ACA provided temporary funding for navigators, or independent ombudsmen programs that were supposed to help consumers understand how to use the ACA public exchange system, but not to recommend or sell coverage. PIA opposed the use of navigators, because they were not duly licensed agents. At first, involvement of agents and brokers was discouraged by the federal government, but then they were sought out to increase ACA enrollment. Under President Donald Trump, CMS has been cutting spending on HealthCare.gov navigators.