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coverage when he lost his job because of the pandemic-fueled decline in air travel. He knows he needs basic coverage until he can find a new job with health insurance — but may not know where to start. Or take Ava, the 26year-old freelance writer who is no longer able to stay on her parent's plan. Because she's never bought her own insurance, she's unsure what the difference is between a deductible and a premium.

Rahul and Ava aren't alone.

According to an October 2021 survey, 72 percent of Americans find purchasing or using health insurance confusing.

Agents and brokers are specifically trained to help people make decisions about health insurance. They're licensed by the states in which they practice and required to undergo continuing education.

They also work for their clients, not insurance companies. They advocate on behalf those clients when billing or claims disputes arise.

Agents and brokers helped about 4 million people sign up for exchange coverage that took effect last year — about 50 percent of the total.

Further, agents and brokers are more effective at getting people covered than federally funded navigators. According to the CMS report, the average agent or broker enrolled 48 percent more people than the average navigator. And agents and brokers did so at lower cost — about 9 percent less. It's no wonder nearly 84 percent of marketplace enrollees who have used an agent or broker found them helpful. 'Health insurance agents and brokers put a local, friendly face on the oftenstressful process of buying coverage, while also offering deep market and product expertise tough to find elsewhere.'

Securing health insurance coverage is more important than ever before.

Eugene Starks is a Jackson, Mississippi- based insurance agent and certified broker.

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