NU Online News Service, March 14, 3:15 p.m. – Indiana lawmakers seem to have given up on a health insurance regulatory relief bill, but they are still working on a bill that could increase regulation of bank insurance sales.

The regulatory relief bill, House Bill 1163, died today in the House, apparently because of strong opposition from labor groups, according to Kim Stoneking, executive director of the Indiana Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Indianapolis.

H.B. 1163 would have eased a state law that requires state-regulated health insurers to cover subscribers’ preexisting medical conditions.

The bill proposed that people with preexisting health conditions would be able to buy individual or group health insurance only if they agreed to waive coverage for those conditions for up to five years.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. David Crooks, D-Washington, Ind., would allow insurers to impose such waivers for up to two health problems that existed before the start of coverage.

Stoneking says that some health insurers pulled out of Indiana in 1999, when the legislature imposed the current one-year maximum on preexisting condition coverage limitations.

“It dried up the market,” Stoneking reports. “Insurers’ denials were running 60% due to limitations, and some carriers said if the law would change, they could cover at least half of those. By extending waivers to five years, we could insure a lot more people.”

Lawmakers seem unlikely to revive the bill this year, Stoneking says.

Meanwhile, a conference committee is now trying to come up with a compromise version of the bank insurance sales bill, H.B. 1191.

The bill, which recently passed both the House and the Senate, would prohibit a bank from forcing customers to buy insurance to qualify for loans.

The bill would also require banks to separate insurance sales desks from other bank functions, when possible; and to warn customers that insurance products are not federally insured.

Rep. Jerry Denbo, D-French Lick, the owner of an insurance agency, introduced the bill, but he won the support of the Indiana Bankers Association, Indianapolis, as well as the IAIFA.

The IBA actually helped put the legislation together, according to IBA President Jim Cousins. He says the bill is in line with the bank insurance sales model act developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.