To help stabilize the individual medical insurance market, a critical provision of the House budget reconciliation measure concentrates its carrots and sticks on the so-called young invincibles aged 30 and younger to encourage them to get into state risk pools. First the carrot. It would allow individual (and small group) medical plans issuers to charge most senior members up to five times more than the most junior versus the current limitation of three times. That would reduce premiums paid by younger members. The stick? A 30 percent surcharge on premiums if a member has not maintained continuous medical coverage when they apply. Sign up late, pay extra.
If enacted, it will take some time to determine whether these two mechanisms will ensure the actuarial viability of the individual segment, the most fraught of the two plan types. Health plan issuers have complained that the individual risk pool is imbalanced with too many people over age 50 as well as an excess of those in poor health and utilizing a lot of medical care. A continuous enrollment incentive would theoretically get younger and presumably healthier and lower utilizing people into the risk pool.
Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email