Allowing Americans more time to enroll for health coverage under Obamacare may raise premiums and cut into profits, insurers are telling members of Congress in a bid to stop such a move.
Extending the enrollment period would have a “destabilizing effect on insurance markets,” saidRobert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for the Washington-based lobbyist group American’s Health Insurance Plans. Allowing younger, healthy Americans to sign up later, as they probably would, means less revenue for insurers counting on those premiums to help defray the cost of sicker customers, threatening industry profits.
“If you can enroll at any point in the year, then you can just wait until you get sick,” Brian Wright, an analyst with Monness Crespi Hardt in New York, said in a telephone interview. “This isn’t the industry crying foul and exaggerating the issue, this is actually one of those issues where there is a well-grounded reason for the concerns.”
It’s a message the industry is taking to Congress after Republicans there, along with at least 10 Democrats, have suggested enrollment be extended beyond its current March 31 deadline because of issues with healthcare.gov, the federal health insurance website that’s been plagued by software miscues.
Consumers who don’t have coverage through their employers or government health programs are being encourage to sign up by mid-December for plans that take effect Jan. 1. After March 31, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act imposes penalties on Americans without coverage.
Read more: Insurers Oppose Obamacare Extension as Danger to Profits – Bloomberg.