May 15, 1996 in Nation/World

Insurance Agents, Brokers Gear Up To Sell Basic Health Plan Policies

Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Revi
 

Insurance agents and brokers will be able to start earning commissions July 1 by signing up people for both group and individual coverage under the Washington State Basic Health Plan.

Hundreds of thousands are going without insurance. Subsidized coverage is available for up to 200,000. Paying insurance salesmen to peddle subsidized coverage is a new thrust to cover people who otherwise are unable to afford health care insurance.

To that end, brokers and agents turned out in force for a sales training seminar last week in Spokane.

Roger Polzin, the State Health Care Authority’s facilitator for Basic Health Care sales training, reports about 120 insurance brokers and agents took part. “The large turnout,” he says, “certainly demonstrates that insurance sales people are interested in marketing the program.”

A total of 18 such sessions for agents and brokers are being offered across the state over a period of three weeks.

Though changes in state law have provided for portability, guaranteed issue, renewability, and reduced waiting periods for pre-existing conditions, hundreds of thousands continue to go uncovered.

“This is especially true,” says State Sen. John Moyer, Spokane physician and a key figure in the health care debate, “for employees of small business. Even though they have a job, they don’t have health care benefits because the premiums are too high.”

Says Polzin, “In this state, about 600,000 people are going without health insurance.” The vast majority are the working poor - people whose jobs don’t provide insurance and whose pay is so low they can’t pay for insurance.

Polzin says people who don’t work are provided for by social agencies. It is those who work but still can’t make it who end up going without - they fall through the cracks.

“But insurance agents and brokers now have a whole new product - a subsidized alternative - that they can begin talking about to small employers,” says Polzin. “They’ve never had anything like this before to sell small business. And we need insurance people out there who know what the coverage is about, and how to sell it properly.”

Since April, adult enrollment in the Basic Health Plan has jumped from 75,000 to 85,000 - up 10,000 in one month.

“It’s working well.”

Atlanta building Momentum

To buoy business spirits after the Olympics, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and a local television station are preparing to launch an economic-uplift campaign called, guess what?

Yup - Momentum ‘97.

Considering the big bucks that developers, merchants and hucksters will rake in from the world games, you’d think the Atlanta business elite could come up with something more original.

Not that Spokane is likely to have any need for the Momentum name next year. Founders of the Spokane economic-acceleration movement a decade ago are now in the process of passing the torch to a fired-up new generation of business leaders.

Pavelich moves up at BDO Seidman

Daniel L. Pavelich of Spokane has been appointed chairman and chief executive officer of BDO Seidman LLP, one of the nation’s foremost accounting and consulting firms.

He will succeed Gary M. Wetstein, who becomes chairman-elect of of the BDO Policy Board, governing body of BDO Binder, the world’s seventh-largest professional service organization.

Pavelich, 51, has been with BDO Seidman’s Spokane office for 27 years. He has been managing partner in Spokane since 1980 and a member of the firm’s national board of directors since 1990.

He is a graduate of the University of Idaho, a father of three, and lives in Spokane with his wife, Sandy.

In his new post, Pavelich will be responsible for more than 40 offices and 1,700 partners and staff nationwide.

Business group lauds Nethercutt

The National Federation of Business applauds U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt’s so-called “Working Americans’ Wage Restoration Act,” which makes Social Security payroll taxes deductible from federal income taxes.

The congressman from Spokane and Sen. John Ashcroft of Missouri have introduced bills that would allow employees and the self-employed to deduct 100 percent of their Social Security payroll taxes.

Currently, the employer’s share (6.2 percent of wages) is deductible, while the employee’s matching share is not. And the self-employed can deduct only half of the 12.4 percent they pay.

“One of small-business owner’s greatest concerns is being able to pay employees a decent living and being able to retain them.” said Jack Faris, president of the NFIB, the nation’s largest small-business lobby. “Full deductibility of Social Security payroll taxes would increase employee’s take-home pay and make it less costly for employers to hire and keep employees.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email