Local agent promotes better understanding of insurance
September 17, 2009 · 10:46 AM
The debate about health care will not be resolved until people take the time to understand the insurance options and which one best suits them, according to a local insurance agent.
“There are a lot of misunderstandings and misperceptions about insurance,” said Scott Rouse, owner of Peninsula Benefit Services. “You only hear about it when someone is turned down and their claim isn’t paid. But you never hear about it when an insurance company pays a claim.”
Rouse’s customers are small businesses and individuals — like freelance contractors — who don’t receive benefits through their work.
When he meets with a new client, he asks them what they have in the way of coverage and what they like or don’t like about the plan before submitting a proposal.
“I think of myself as a Human Resources department for companies that don’t have them,” he said. “I tailor a plan to the way they do business.”
He said many people don’t take the time to understand the options and have selective hearing when it comes to buying policies.
“When I meet a new client, I can give them 30 different options about managing their health insurance but they usually only want to hear two or three,” he said. “They also don’t want to hear about long-term care or disability insurance unless they have experience in the situation. Unless it touches someone personally, they will ignore it.”
Such attention to detail will help people understand the government’s healthcare initiatives and notice certain inconsistencies.
For instance, the proposal calls for lower premiums and the end of caps for payments. Rouse said that the two cannot coexist, because it means more money will be going out than coming in.
The government also wants to provide “insurance for everybody,” but people of different ages and conditions do not have the same needs.
Still, Rouse predicts not much will change if the government gets deeper into the healthcare business.
People who take care of themselves will continue to do so, while those who neglect their health won’t alter their behavior.
Rouse doesn’t think insurance — whether from the government or a private contractor — should pay for every medical expense. To illustrate, he evokes car insurance.
“If you get an auto policy, they will help you fix the car after an accident,” he said. “They don’t pay for your gas and they don’t pay for your oil change. You’re responsible for some of it yourself.”
As a result, many people confuse insurance with the idea of pre-paid healthcare.
Rouse said people complain about the price of premiums but don’t realize that rates are set by the state and out of the agents’ control.
Rouse, 47, is married with three school-aged children.
A resident of McCormick Woods since 1992, he moved here because a fully equipped home cost about the same as a fixer-upper in West Seattle. He operates out of his home, conducting most of his business in the client’s office.
Rouse said that most people don’t pay attention to insurance until they make a claim that is denied.
He acknowledges that some insurance companies give the business a bad name in these situations, but does not deal with companies with shaky reputations.
“I represent quality companies,” he said. “In a small town like Port Orchard, you need to protect your good name. If you don’t do good work, you won’t be in business for very long.”