This excerpt taken from the UNH 10-K filed Feb 11, 2009.
Sales of our products and services are dependent on our ability to attract, retain and provide support to a network of independent third party brokers, consultants and agents.
Our products are sold in part through independent brokers, consultants and agents who assist in the production and servicing of business. We typically do not have long-term contracts with our independent brokers, consultants and agents, who generally are not exclusive to us and who frequently also recommend and/or market health care products and services of our competitors. As a result, we must compete intensely for their services and allegiance. Our sales would be adversely affected if we are unable to attract or retain independent brokers, consultants and agents or if we do not adequately provide support, training and education to them regarding our product portfolio, which is complex, or if our sales strategy is not appropriately aligned across distribution channels.
In addition, there have been a number of investigations regarding the marketing practices of brokers and agents selling health care products and the payments they receive. These have resulted in enforcement actions against companies in our industry and brokers and agents marketing and selling these companies products. For example, CMS and state departments of insurance have increased their scrutiny of the marketing practices of brokers and agents who market Medicare products. These investigations and enforcement actions could result in penalties and the imposition of corrective action plans and/or changes to industry practice which could adversely impact our ability to market our products.