WASHINGTON BUREAU — Even if Democrats succeed at passing and implementing the health system changes that most concern the insurance industry, many of those changes might not start taking effect until 2013.
One of the most controversial proposals, the proposed employer health coverage mandate, might not take effect until 2018.
That story emerges in documents released by the House committees with jurisdiction over health system legislation.
A timeline provided by the House Ways and Means Committee shows that provisions that would take effect on a delayed basis include creation of a health coverage purchasing exchange; prohibitions on insurers from “engaging in discriminatory practices,” such as individual medical underwriting; and establishment of the “public option,” or government-run health plan.
All of the provisions are now in the version of the health system bill now being debated by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee.
Insurance officials are welcoming the fact that relatively conservative, or “Blue Dog,” Democrats participating in the “tri committee” effort have forced the House to delay action on the bill until after the House returns from its summer recess Sept. 8.
“We are hopeful that the House tri-committees will use the delay until after the recess to come back and amend the current draft to make it more amenable and realistic,” says Diane Boyle, executive vice president of the Association of Health Insurance Advisors, an affiliate of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va.
The health insurance industry already has agreed to accept many reforms.
These include bans on refusing to sell or renew policies due to an individual’s health status, and excluding coverage for treatments based on pre-existing health conditions.
Another provision accepted by the industry would limit the ability of insurers to charge higher rates due to heath status, gender, or other factors. Under that provision, “premiums can vary only on age (no more than 2:1), geography and family size,” officials say.