Likely Republican efforts next year to strip a controversial provision from the health care reform law that will require individuals to enroll in a qualified health care plan or be fined could lead to yet higher health care costs, an industry lobbyist warns.
If the individual mandate, which takes effect in 2014, were removed and other provisions remain, such as the ban of the denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, “it would be a disaster,” said Patricia Henry, executive vice president and deputy general counsel for commercial property and casualty insurance company ACE Group Holdings Inc. in Philadelphia.
Delivering the keynote address Nov. 10 at the 20th World Captive Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona, Henry likened such action to allowing people to buy homeowners insurance while their house was burning down.
With restrictions, such as the ban on pre-existing condition exclusions, in place, healthy people in some cases would wait until they were sick to buy coverage, resulting in adverse selection and ultimately forcing insurers to significantly boost premiums, she warned.
Whether GOP backers of such action would be successful is not clear. Henry predicted more gridlock in the new congressional session.
But she said it is likely that Congress would repeal a provision, which she described as “anathema” to the small-business community that will require employers to furnish 1099 reporting statements whenever they do more than $600 in business with a corporate vendor. Many Republicans and some Democrats want the provision repealed, and President Barack Obama said last week that he is open to considering changes to the provision.
Henry, though, said she does not sense much interest in Congress for legislation backed by the risk retention group industry to allow RRGs to write property coverage for policyholder-owners.