Sign-ups through Nevada Health Link are finished for the summer, but the close of enrollment hasn’t meant an end to technical troubles for the website’s users.
And the problems go beyond coverage kinks for consumers.
Some insurance brokers who helped Nevadans buy policies through the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange’s website say they’re having trouble getting paid the commissions they’re owed.
Consider Lou Cila, an agent with Best Nevada Insurance Agency in Henderson. Cila said the system has paid him about $3,000 in commissions since January, but still owes him about $5,000.
And local independent broker Dwight Mazzone said he’s received about $200 in commissions and is also owed at least another $5,000.
“It’s been an absolute horror. I would have made more money working at McDonald’s,” Cila said.
Added Mazzone: “You’ve been working since January and haven’t got a paycheck. Tell me how you’d feel.”
So we reached out to the exchange to figure out what’s going on.
Here’s what we found: The exchange has compiled a spreadsheet listing all policy submissions by insurance brokers, spokesman CJ Bawden said. The spreadsheet is completely up to date, with agents correctly listed as brokers of record where applicable. What’s more, Nevada Health Link contractor Xerox has received the broker-written enrollments, Bawden said.
The problem? Xerox has not confirmed to the exchange that it has sent the records of broker assignment to insurance carriers, which in turn are responsible for paying commissions. So this flaw is “entirely the fault of Xerox,” Bawden said.
Bawden added that Xerox has not given a reason for why it hasn’t transferred broker details to carriers.
Xerox spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer told us that the company is “researching this issue and working closely with the exchange and the carriers to resolve it as quickly as possible to ensure brokers are paid appropriately.”
Bawden said the glitch isn’t affecting every broker.
For the unpaid, exchange staffers are “pushing daily to have Xerox resolve this issue so that brokers and agents that have supported Nevada Health Link can receive the compensation they have earned,” he said.
No one has an ETA on when brokers could expect more payments to begin flowing. Xerox told brokers in December or January that they were having trouble tracking what agents went with which clients, Mazzone said.
“They said, ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ll catch up and you’ll get Christmas in July.’ But that’s less than 30 days away, and I don’t see anything changing whatsoever,” he said.
Brokers have other payment concerns, too.
For starters, no one is tracking consumers who’ve stopped paying premiums for their coverage. Their coverage will get canceled if they don’t get current within 90 days, and that would mean less income for brokers as well, said Cila, who added that he doubled his errors and omissions liability insurance in January to protect his business from a potential surge in clients who might sue over enrollment mistakes.
“This is like Insurance 101. I used to be a Farmers agent, and every day, we would get alerts saying, ‘Joe Smith’s policy is late, and he’s going to be canceled in five days.’ Then I would call and remind the client. They’re (the exchange) not letting me participate in collection.”
And Mazzone, who estimated that his commission earnings through the exchange come to less than $10 an hour based on time spent struggling to get people enrolled, said carriers may not be figuring commissions properly.
Some commissions may be based incorrectly on post-subsidy dollars. In other words, if a consumer has a monthly premium of $300, but pays just $100 after the federal tax credit is applied, the broker is still supposed to get paid based on the full $300 payment, he said.
That’s not always happening, though. Some brokers are getting paid on the discounted premium.
Billing problems continue to cloud payments as well.
Some of Cila’s clients have been billed double and triple what they’re supposed to pay in the last few weeks.
No brokers are suing yet, but some say it could come to that if they don’t get paid soon.
“If, by the end of June, I see it’s going nowhere, I would definitely go after it, because at that point, it’s a big problem,” Cila said. “If I had a family to support, I couldn’t do it.”
Cila said the process has been so frustrating that he stopped sending in his weekly reports.
“The first one, they got it all wrong. I thought, ‘I’m not going to waste my time if they’re not going to do it right.’”
But to protect themselves, brokers need to keep following protocols and submitting their spreadsheets when they enroll new clients, Bawden said.
Patience will also help.
Come November, brokers and consumers will be working with a new system that may fix some sign-up and payment issues. The exchange’s board of directors voted May 20 to end their contract with Xerox and borrow enrollment and eligibility functions from the federal government.