A group of insurance experts is warning Congress against repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate, saying the move would raise premiums and could cause insurers to drop out of the market.
The American Academy of Actuaries wrote to congressional leaders on Tuesday saying that “eliminating the individual mandate would lead to premium increases.”
The Republican tax-reform bill which is nearing completion in Congress would repeal the ObamaCare mandate that people have health insurance or pay a fine.
Republicans argue the measure included in the Senate-passed bill is tax relief by removing a penalty for low-income people who choose not to buy insurance.
The actuaries warn that repealing the mandate would harm the health insurance market by removing an incentive for healthy people to enroll and balance out the costs of the sick.
The insurance experts also say that a measure pushed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), intended to help offset the premium increases from repealing the mandate, would not be enough to make up the difference.
That bill, sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray(D-Wash.), would fund key ObamaCare payments known as cost-sharing reductions. The actuaries say the payments “would not offset premium increases due to an elimination of the mandate.”
The letter says additional measures — such as funding to bring down premiums known as “reinsurance,” which Collins has also proposed — could help, though. Some experts say more funding than is currently proposed would be needed.
The instability from repealing the mandate also could lead some insurers to drop out of markets altogether, the actuaries warn, potentially leaving some people with no insurance options.
“Insurers would likely reconsider their future participation in the market,” the actuaries write. “This could lead to severe market disruption and loss of coverage among individual market enrollees.”