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P/C Insurers: Focus Health Care Reforms on Health Care

Source: AIA

Posted on 12 Nov 2009

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A united group of property/casualty trade associations that represent every segment of the p/c insurance industry -- primary insurers, agents, brokers, and reinsurers -- expressed concern with House passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3692). The group objects to onerous provisions included in the bill that without due consideration go far beyond the issue of expanding health insurance coverage.

As outlined in a letter sent Friday to members of the House, of particular concern is language in the bill that would completely disrupt the industry’s business environment and create substantial legal uncertainty and unnecessary litigation. Further, the bill would permit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prepare studies and reports on the entire insurance industry and to repeal the limited antitrust exemption in the McCarran-Ferguson Act as it applies to health and medical professional liability insurance.

“The goal of any health care legislation should be to address issues of health care coverage and affordability,” stated the groups. “This purpose is not served by allowing the FTC to encroach on the jurisdiction of the states and conduct duplicative investigations of any insurance company,” the trade groups argue.

There is also language in the bill that would modify the McCarran-Ferguson Act for health and medical professional liability insurance by broadly applying federal antitrust laws to the “business of health insurance or the business of medical malpractice insurance.” This would fundamentally alter long-standing provisions of the McCarran-Ferguson Act and undo decades of settled case law, thus upsetting McCarran’s careful balance of regulatory and anti-trust policy. It would also eliminate pro-competition information resources for insurers and easily compared forms for consumers, making insurance shopping more difficult and expensive.

As the full Senate begins its consideration of health care reforms, the p/c industry hopes that Senators will remain focused on the goals of the legislation; lowering the costs of and increasing access to health care.

The trade associations include: American Insurance Association, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, The Financial Services Roundtable, Independent Agents & Brokers of America, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, Physician Insurers Association of America Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, and Reinsurance Association of America.