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Opinion: Spare a thought...

There are many changes afoot in our industry, most of which will land - after so many years in the making - this year. However, spare a thought for the insurance broker in the US.

Wednesday, January 13th 2010, 5:00AM

by Russell Hutchinson

Tax laws and companies vary a great deal across this vast market, making any discussion of "the insurance business in the USA" almost as silly as the famous example of discussing the weather in the US.

However, there is one federal change which will have an impact across the entire union: the changes to US healthcare - often dubbed "Obamacare" by opponents, who wish to attach any blame for difficulties with the incredibly complex changes to president himself.

It's a vast package of changes that runs to more than 2,000 pages in a draft bill and covers revisions to many hundreds of programmes or organisations. Healthcare in the US is a complicated business. Complexity means that consumers often seek advice and one of the challenges is that although a private market for health coverage remains central to even the system proposed, the changes will probably reduce the scope for the insurance broker advising clients.

Efforts to simplify and streamline coverage options and create a new marketplace for the presently uninsured may squeeze the advised sector. Yet the need for advice will remain. This may make you think about the fee for advice discussions which have come up repeatedly in recent months. In fact, there are many financial decisions in which advice may be useful for a consumer - but no commission is possible, and only a fee for advice could work. These often remain untapped.

Perhaps there's money in managing risk and insurance programmes in a different way?


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