If Golden State lawmakers want to require individuals to own health coverage, they have to make sure any exceptions are as narrow as possible.

Otherwise, many people who can afford health coverage will opt out, and that will lead to antiselection problems for health insurers and skyrocketing rates for consumers who do buy coverage, according to officials at the California Association of Health Underwriters, Fresno, Calif.

CAHU President Neil Crosby has expressed that position in a letter to the California Assembly Health Committee, which is considering several “universal health” bills. One option lawmakers are considering is requiring individuals without employer-sponsored coverage to buy their own coverage.

One bill would exempt individuals from the requirement if the cost of coverage was greater than 6.5% of their gross income, but CAHU believes the only factor used in exemption decisions should be the actual cost of coverage, Crosby writes.

Elsewhere in the CAHU letter, Crosby writes that two of the universal health bills fail to define the kind of coverage that California residents would have to buy.

To analyze the effects of the proposed coverage ownership mandate, observers need to know what the actual requirements would be, Crosby writes.