Posted 9/30/2013 12:00 am
Updated 2 months ago
Jay Bradford has more than four decades of experience in the insurance industry, including 30 years as founder, chairman and former shareholder of First Arkansas Insurance Group of Pine Bluff, a statewide network of independent property and casualty agencies. He also served in the Arkansas Legislature for 24 years, where he was chosen both speaker pro tempore of the House and president pro tempore of the Senate. Bradford also served as chairman of the Public Health, Welfare & Labor Committee in both bodies.
Bradford holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and psychology from Henderson State College, now Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. He also is a certified insurance counselor.
Bradford was appointed Arkansas insurance commissioner on Jan. 15, 2009, by Gov. Mike Beebe.
Q: What is your role as commissioner?
A: As insurance commissioner for the state of Arkansas, I am charged with protecting Arkansas insurance consumers. One of my chief tools in providing that protection is making sure the companies providing insurance products remain solvent and conduct themselves within the marketplace in a manner that treats the consumer fairly.
A major piece of health care reform takes place Oct. 1 when the health care marketplaces open for business. What’s your advice to small-business owners on how best to handle the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for their employees?
Oct. 1 is the first day individuals and businesses may enroll in the marketplace plans. Jan. 1 is the earliest coverage may begin. If you run a small business and you are happy with the plans you already offer your employees, you are required to make no changes. However, if you’d like to see what options are available, I would encourage you to learn more. Go to ArHealthConnector.org or contact us directly at the Insurance Department. We’re working hard to ensure everyone has the information necessary to understand the options available to them that fit their needs and budgets. Also, the business owner’s agent should be a good source of information.
Is there anything in the ACA that concerns you? If so, what?
I am deeply concerned about the chances for fraud. While enrolling in plans on the exchange does not affect those on Medicare, I am reminded of the scammers we saw when the Medicare Part D plans were first introduced across the nation some years ago. We have to be watchful at this time for the same types of bad actors trying to take advantage of consumers.
Can you explain what the Affordable Care Act has meant for your office?
It has certainly kept us busy. Specifically, two divisions within the Insurance Department are funded by the federal government to comply with the Affordable Care Act: the Arkansas Health Connector Division, which is implementing the marketplace in Arkansas, and the Rate Review Division, which helps facilitate refunds to Arkansans if insurance companies fail to meet the medical loss ratio for the year. An MLR is the percentage of premiums spent on reimbursement for clinical services and activities that improve health care quality.
In addition to health insurance, what are other changes in the insurance industry?
We are seeing downward price trending or market rate stability in both commercial property and casualty as well as in workers’ compensation. In personal lines, which include homeowners and auto, we are seeing the opposite trend with pricing having risen somewhat. However, 2012 was generally a profitable year for property insurers since no catastrophic weather events took place in the state. This trend has continued to hold into the middle of 2013; with luck, we should see some moderation in rates.