by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 


Individual Health Insurance

24 April 2014

Covered California Director Talks Future Fixes with Top Insurance Agent

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

Covered California Director Talks Future Fixes with Top Insurance Agent

When Peter Lee, Director of Covered California, mentioned a rather obscure insurance agent from Canoga Park in his blog on Monday, it blind-sided Edmond Haronian like a Kardashian trick-or-treating at his doorstep (also a true story). 

Over the past year, agents like Haronian got the cold shoulder from Covered California. Ads from the state marketplace directed consumers to sign up for insurance by calling their number or visiting their website. There was seldom acknowledgement that certified agents were also available to enroll customers who didn't want to wait on hold for hours to complete a glitchy online application. Sure, Covered CA's homepage had a hardly-noticeable "Find Help Near You" button, but it was shared by agents, councilors, and county service agencies alike.

Edmond Haronian thought his accomplishment of signing up over 600 Californians during open enrollment would go unnoticed, even after Covered California released data revealing agents had enrolled over 39% of all applicants - second only to consumers who enrolled themselves. Covered CA reps enrolled 9%. 

To his surprise, Haronian not only got recognized in Lee's blog but chatted with the director on Wednesday. Lee sought feedback and discussed improvements Covered California would make to assist health insurance agents they once ignored. 

Here's a breakdown of what Lee and Haronian brainstormed. 

How to Support Agents

#1  Agents need a dedicated line.

  • Agents who deal with hundreds of applications can't wait on hold for 3 hours for support for each client. Immediate assistance = more enrollments. 

#2  Agents need training on how to complete applications. Training as it is only teaches new insurance standards and not how the online application works. 

  • Train agents to troubleshoot basic problems (Example: clear the cookies, change browser, withdraw application, etc) 

#3  Agents who are Top Producers should get leads. 

  • Rather than give agents customer information for cold calling (Customers feel their privacy is violated) - Email + mail customers to contact a Certified Agent so consumers are in control.
  • While on hold with Covered CA, callers have the option to Dial # to find a Certified Agent by zipcode. 

How Agents Can Help

#1  The public needs to know that agents are there to help.

  • Ads should always mention agents. Only toward the last month did Covered CA ads mention agents. 
  • The public needs to know that Certified Agents are free so they don' t fall for scams. Some agents charge hundreds of dollars to enroll, especially for vulnerable Medi-Cal clients. 

How a Better Agent Portal = More Enrollments

#1   The agent portal needs to be agent-friendly. 

  • Agents should have the ability to organize alphabetically, by enrollment date, by effective date, etc. via the online portal.

#2   There should be automatic notifications to agents for every application. 

  • Right now it's a guessing game. Agents are forced to call each customer and insurance company to follow up on each application status, instead of it being automated.
  • Notifications should tell agents whether required documents are submitted and approved, payments are submitted and approved, etc. 

#3  Applications should be under Agent's SS# and Tax ID#.

  • This makes it easier for Covered CA and insurance companies to search for our applications, allowing them to pay commission to agents on time.

Peter Lee was completely receptive to Edmond Haronian's ideas, many of which he said are on Covered California's To-Do List.

Lee mentioned that while agents received the cold-shoulder in the beginning, he quickly corrected the mistake by educating call center reps to treat agents as an extension of Covered California. 

We look forward to a fresh start in the fall, an even better enrollment season, and a symbiotic relationship between Covered California and Certified Agents. From the sounds Wednesday's chat, he's our biggest supporter and we're his. 

18 December 2013

Pajamaboy: Obamacare's Latest Mascot and Martyr

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

Pajamaboy: Obamacare's Latest Mascot and Martyr

     Obamacare opponents have a new punching bag and it’s conveniently wrapped in 100% cotton.

    President Obama tweeted PajamaBoy on Wednesday, December 18th, debuting yet another Obamacare mascot targeted by conservatives. Some say he's the offspring of the original face of, who received so many online threats from Obamacare haters her photo was taken down.

    The latest ad brewing controversy shows a bespectacled 20-something holding a mug and wearing a flannel onesie, implying Christmastime and comfort. December 23rd is the last day to enroll for health insurance to get coverage by January 1st, so channeling the season was strategic.

    Unfortunately, no photographer could have predicted what the innocent imagery provoked: a slew of narrow-minded tweets that concluded PajamaBoy is a hipster or PajamaBoy is a gender-bending effeminate male stereotype. Ironically, with every retweet Obamacare opponents are fulfilling the ad's purpose as shown by the hashtag: #GetTalking.

    While glasses, flannel, and youth scream hipster culture, utilizing hipsters proved ineffective for Oregon’s exchange, whose ad campaign cost $300 million resulting in only 44 enrollments for health insurance across the state.

    In my opinion, PajamaBoy is not so much a hipster as he is Zac Posen’s doppelganger whose mission is to cover everyone with insurance instead of fabric.


08 November 2013

Obamacare Supporters Are Like Chickens Supporting KFC

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

Obamacare Supporters Are Like Chickens Supporting KFC

    Harland "Colonel" Sanders wouldn't approve of unfair comparisons to his secret recipe chicken and Obamacare. He was a Prudential insurance salesman and founder of KFC after all.

    That didn't stop one blaspheming former dentist and current Representative of Arizona, Paul Goser, not to be confused with Gozer the Gozerian (R) from New York. He said on the 3rd anniversary of the Affordable Care Act that supporters of Obamacare are equal to chickens who support KFC.

    Goser elaborated that Native Americans in his district have received government assistance all their lives but would rather have private insurance options. And so should everyone else. In other words, Americans who like Obamacare are deep-fried in self-destruction.

    His misaligned view on Obamacare is similar to many Americans' who see Obamacare as a government takeover rather than a series of regulations on private and public insurance plans.

    To be clear as a KFC napkin, there isn't a sole federal plan shoved down anyone's throat, let alone Native Americans who eat fast food.

     Private insurance companies offer new, improved insurance plans with premium assistance under Obamacare. These plans are not exclusively sold by the government. Insurance agents, especially certified agents, enroll customers just as easily if not easier than the state exchanges.

      Compared to other states, Kentucky's exchange is faring so extraordinarily well under Obamacare that the Colonel would shed a tear out of pride, if he weren't in chicken limbo. That is not an intentional reference to the beloved 90's Chicken Limbo game.

    Under Obamacare, preexisting conditions, like the love for Kentucky cuisine, are covered. People have the option to choose which insurance they want just like they choose "Original", "Extra Crispy", or "Grilled".

    Really? You're going to order grilled chicken at KFC? Why not ask a dentist to clean one tooth afterwards. Well, it's the thought that counts.

    God bless America!

16 October 2013

The Best Breaking Bad Villain: Obamacare?

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

The Best Breaking Bad Villain: Obamacare?

     In his Rolling Stone interview, Bryan Cranston, who played the anti-hero Walter White in Breaking Bad,  thanked God that Obamacare didn't exist 5 years ago or it would have been the biggest nail in the show's coffin.

    Speaking of nails, remember the time one destroyed Superman, usurping all villains as the biggest baddie of all time? It didn't kill Superman like Doomsday, it killed Superman's history. 

   In an alternate Superman story, The Nail by Alan Davis, Jonathan and Martha Kent run over a nail, puncture their tire, and miss the arrival of Kal-El's spacecraft in Smallville. With no one to raise the boy from Krypton, the world has no Superman.

    The title was inspired by an English proverb of a nail that never makes it into a horseshoe, failing a horse in battle, and causing a kingdom to fall. In an alternative universe, a similar harmless threat could have collapsed Heisenberg's kingdom.

    The Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare was signed into law just 2 years and 2 months after the premiere of Breaking Bad. Coincidentally, open enrollment for new health insurance plans occurred October 1st, 2013 the day after Breaking Bad's series finale.

    Like early cancer detection for Walter White, had Obamacare occurred sooner in America, he could have afforded treatment and avoided cooking meth to pay for medical bills. Also an acceptable alternative story: Walt steps on a nail on his way to Jesse's rolling meth lab and stays home. 

    As of 2013, the average salary for a high school science teacher in Albuquerque, NM, the setting of Breaking Bad, is about $35,000 a year. Since Walter White was relieved of his chemistry teacher duties in Season 3's Green Light, he has no employer coverage and his income on paper (meth money aside) qualifies him to receive subsidized health insurance through the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange under Obamacare.

    Of course, Walt declined Elliot and Gretchen's offer to pay for his cancer treatment out of pride: he hated his old friends who became millionaires off of his work. Though he might feel more satisfied accepting federal premium assistance by the law of the land. Like millions of other New Mexicans, subsidies indiscriminately and discreetly subtract from his total insurance cost upon enrollment under Obamacare. And discreet is Walt's style.

    Despite President Obama resembling Gus Fring, the calm, calculating chicken connoisseur: the Lex Luthor of crystal meth in the south west, it's Barack who would be the bane of Walt's existence. Not a drooling cartel cripple with a bell. Not a color-blind Neo-Nazi who can't tell yellow from blue meth. Walter White's nail is Obamacare... in an alternative universe where Walt Jr. also skips breakfast.

20 September 2013

Top 10 Insurance Items In Video Games

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

Top 10 Insurance Items In Video Games


Auto Insurance – Grand Theft Auto 5

    The GTA series is famous for raising pimps: but responsible drivers? In GTA V, players can experience adulthood without help from a purple sex toy found in the police showers. The newest GTA feature: auto insurance will slap prostitutes in the face with outrageous deductibles instead. It’s the first of 10 insurance items in video games on our list. Let's go over the rest which insure our lives one level at a time.


    Fairy Bottle - Legend of Zelda Series

   HEY! LISTEN! Click here to buy the awesome shirt above.

    Nothing's more stressful than hearing the lifeline beep when an enemy's beaten you to your last heart (or piece of a heart!). Contrarily, when you're at full health and break a pot only to discover a fairy, the stress kicks in even more when prepping your bottle for capture without accidentally walking into the fairy and wasting its vitalizing powers.

    Bosses store fairies outside their lairs as a cruel reminder to Link that his Hylian parents failed to open a life insurance policy (fairy) before abandoning him in the Kokiri Forest. A fairy in a bottle will save your hide when all hope and hearts are seemingly lost. The steps to use one are nearly identical to Walk the Dinosaur lyrics:

Open the Door
Get On the Floor
Everybody Watch the Fairy Restore


    Chocobo Insurance - Final Fantasy XIV: Realm Reborn

    The 14th installment to Final Fantasy may have been a Flash Spell in the Prospector Pan, but fanboys, fangirls, and fanoccurias can feel safe purchasing the direct sequel, Realm Reborn, because it comes with Chocobo insurance. Surprisingly, whether you live in Eorzea or Los Angeles, the laws are the same. No matter how rich you are in Grand Company Seals, you can't get your Chocobo license without coverage.

    Side note: While as ornately-dressed as their Dinotopia ancestors, Chocobos have an edge on the thunder lizards who perished by meteorite: insurance from Sephiroth's Meteor.


Focus Sash - Pokemon Series

 Costing 48 Battle Points, it’s the best high deductible insurance plan a 10-year-old can buy. If you're smart enough to make Mom buy it for you in HeartGold or SoulSilver, then you've probably already exploited the Level 1 Endeavor Rattata with Focus Sash too. For everyone who isn't the Joey, the Top Percentage of Rattatas Trainer, a pokemon wearing a focus sash will endure a one-hit KO move with 1 hit point remaining 100% of the time. If you need further explanation, save Joey’s number in your phone and he’ll give you a- oh, you’re already on the phone with him? I see how it is.


Balloon - Donkey Kong Country Returns

    Please. Someone who's completed the 6th Level in the Volcano World come over and beat it so I can move on with my life. Luckily, Donkey Kong's volatile grandpa, Cranky Kong keeps his store open 24-7 because I've bought more balloons than the equally-cantankerous old man from Up. Balloons in Donkey Kong are extra lives: a life insurance policy similar to the elusive green 1-Ups in Mario.


    1-UP Mushroom – Super Mario Series

    As noted previously, these elusive green mushrooms have the same effect as their red helium-filled counterparts in Donkey Kong. If you need further explanation then go bounce around until you hit an invisible box and swallow whatever comes at your face.


    Green and Red Shells – Mario Kart Series


    A low deductible auto insurance plan (which really doesn’t cost anything and is totally random) can be acquired by running over a mystery box and obtaining green or red shells. These leftover koopah remains will encircle the player’s kart, ready for deployment to be used offensively or in this case, defensively. When an opponent shoots a shell at you, especially a red one, prepare to be stalked like Piper Chapman in prison. To defend yourself, launch your shell at the incoming danger and knock it off the track. There’s just no stopping Princess Daisy if she corners you in the cafeteria.


Death Flower – The Sims 3

    Level 10 Anglers and Level 7 Gardeners inspecting the Pleasant Rest Graveyard can acquire the Unknown Special Seed, which when planted, will grow the mysterious Tim Burton-inspired Death Flower. It’s the creepiest life insurance policy you can open next to hiring the Burger King as your bodyguard. When your Sim dies from old age or a smoke detector-less kitchen fire, the Grim Reaper will appear ready for your soul. Instead of bending over backwards for the greedy specter, bribe Him with your Death Flower and He’ll be happy to resurrect you until the next mummy curse.


Spare Body – Megaman & Bass

    Auto takes screws as payment. Don’t take that the wrong way. He actually turns screws (also known as bolts for some reason) into weaponry and armor for Mega Man, the heroic android. When selling the necessary Spare Body, which acts as an extra life for Mega Man, Auto outright describes it as “Think of it as life insurance, the more you have, the better off you are.” How could we leave it off the list?


Zombie Insurance Notice – Resident Evil Outbreak

    While this isn’t an obtainable item, it reminds the player that zombie insurance might not be that bad to buy in the real world. It’s actually sold for $14.95 a year at Zaico Insurance. Throw in 3 more bucks and you’ll get a plastic insurance card for your wallet: an item more useful for unlocking doors when zombie hordes sashay your way.

    Thanks for play- er, reading!