A health insurance group says it might accept individual or employer health care mandates under certain conditions.

“The health care reform challenge is to bring millions of uninsured Americans into the system and to reduce the high cost of health care for everyone,” says Lawrence E. Lounds, president of the Association of Health Insurance Advisors. “Of course, these two challenges are related and one cannot be solved without tackling the other.”

AHIA, a unit of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va., has introduced a plan, “The Rx For Health Care,” that it says could extend coverage to more Americans.

“A voluntary approach to coverage is preferred,” AHIA says in it plan. “However, a given proposal will not be automatically opposed simply because such proposal includes an individual or employer mandate, so long as it includes appropriate safeguards designed to protect the vitality of choice, quality and competition.”

AHIA says such safeguards could include:

o Cost sharing between employers and employees;

o Establishment of affordable basic benefits packages exempt from mandated benefit laws;

o Government subsidies for low-income individuals;

o Availability of pooling procedures to spread high risks;

Finally, AHIA says, there should be “real consequences for those that ignore the coverage mandate.”

Other elements of AHIA’s plan include tax incentives for health care premiums, availability of low-cost coverage, and removal of legislative and regulatory limits on insurance options.