A longtime marketer says he'd much rather talk to consumers about health insurance ownership incentives than about mandate penalties. (Photo: Thinkstock)

One point that’s been coming up often in the current health insurance debates is that eliminating the Affordable Care Act individual coverage mandate would inevitably make insurance market problems worse.

I disagree: Eliminating the individual mandate won’t necessarily create an unstable risk pools, despite the claims of the health insurance industry.

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The ACA mandate is largely ineffective.

Nearly nine of 10 the people who don’t have health insurance don’t have to pay the penalty, because there are many exemptions.

Even under the current ACA individual mandate rules, developed by the Obama administration, consumers who earn too little, and would have to spend more than 8.15% of their taxable income on premiums, don’t have to pay the penalty.

And, this year, President Trump has essentially told the IRS not to enforce the penalty requirement.

Even now, after all that’s gone on in the Senate, the Congress may still have an opportunity to replace the stick with a carrot, and create a new system that provides tax and income benefits for each year consumers keep coverage in place.

The mandate did not make insurance more affordable. Eliminating it will not make insurance more expensive, if consumers get the right rewards for doing the right thing.

Brokers and advisors would much rather counsel their clients about all the positive benefits of having insurance instead of warning clients about the negative consequences of going without coverage, especially when they’re talking to the many clients who feel that they can’t afford the premiums.

— Check out CBO: ACA Mandate May Cut Nongroup Rates 15% on ThinkAdvisor.