Maryland’s broker-consumer “BATphone” pilot getting industry attention

telephoneThe Maryland health exchange’s pilot program to route some consumer calls directly to brokers — known as the Broker Assistance Transfer or “BATphone” program — has received some attention in industry trade publications. Its aim is to engage consumers with experienced brokers who can help them navigate complex health insurance choices, The pilot is seen as a sign of progress in the relationship between the broker community and exchanges overall.

IFAwebnews,com quoted from a presentation that Michele Eberle, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange’s chief operations officer, provided to the exchange’s board of directors recently. Under the pilot, call center customer service representatives will make “warm transfers” of consumer calls to brokers to help shorten the reps’ caller time, give consumers access to expert advice and provide brokers better access to qualified leads, the Hunt Valley, Md.-based publication reported.

In another article in Employee Benefit News, Alan Schulman, president of the Maryland Association of Health Underwriters, said the pilot is a result of his group and the exchange working together. “Both sides are very much looking forward to it and believe it will be very good for the consumers in Maryland,” said Schulman, relationship manager at brokerage The Meltzer Group in Rockville.

Maryland’s program reflected movement toward a better working relationship between state health exchanges and the broker community, several publications said. Modern Healthcare reported that state-based exchanges are experimenting with more innovative ways to reach consumers in need of coverage on the eve of a third open-enrollment season beginning in November. The publication Benefits Pro described Maryland’s broker pilot as taking the outreach “a step further.”