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Filed Under:Markets, Employee Benefits

Short-term medical seller sees strong nap period demand

Kevin Coleman (File photo)
Kevin Coleman (File photo)

One big question for agents and brokers is what the new individual major medical open enrollment period system will do to "nap period" sales of other types of insurance products.

Regulators, exchanges and insurers required most consumers to buy individual coverage during a period that started Oct. 1, 2013, and ended in mid-April in most of the country, to keep consumers from waiting until they get sick to buy coverage. The ordinary enrollment cut-off does not apply to group health coverage, dental coverage, vision coverage, short-term medical insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance, critical illness insurance or hospital indemnity insurance. The cut-off certainly does not apply to life insurance or property-casualty insurance.

But, in theory, the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) could be taking advantage of the individual major medical nap period to sell group health plans. So far, the scanty bits of data dribbling out suggest that few public exchanges are racking up big group health plan sales.

Health Insurance Innovations Inc. (Nasdaq:HIIQ) -- a distributor of short-term medical insurance and other products that fall outside the scope of PPACA major medical product requirements -- provided some clues earlier this month when it posted preliminary second-quarter unit sales numbers.

The second quarter lasts from April 1 through June 30. Most of that quarter fell outside the individual major medical open enrollment period, and outside the period of time when the public exchanges and exchange plan issuers were blanketing the country with television ads, radio ads, print ads, billboards and digital ads telling consumers, to "Get covered."

At Health Insurance Innovations, the number of short-term medical policies and hospital indemnity policies sold increased to 58,092, up 65 percent from the total for the second quarter of 2013. The number of "ancillary product" policies sold increased 225 percent, to 33,854. The company's ancillary product category includes critical illness insurance and dental plans.

Company executives said they think those numbers show that Health Insurance Innovations, and the agents and brokers it serves, can generate good sales of non-PPACA products during the nap period, despite the lack of individual exchange plan open enrollment period publicity.

The company recently acquired HealthPocket, a health insurance data company. Kevin Coleman, head of research and data at Health Insurance Innovations, said one reason that company bought HealthPocket was to get access to a stream of reports it could use to get some attention for insurance during the nap period.

"I think health agents in general are learning to adapt," Coleman said. 

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Nichole Morford

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