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Health insurance companies call for tougher penalties

Posted On Thu, October 8, 2009

As the debate on health insurance reform continues, companies providing policies want to make sure penalties for not having insurance will have some weight.

According to a recent report from the Associated Press, the Senate Finance Committee recently lowered possible fines for families that do not get health insurance. In previous debates over health insurance reform, some members of Congress called for fines as high as $3,800 for households that do not get insurance.

The finance committee's action lowers that penalty to $1,500, which is featured in the Senate's most recent version of the legislation. The AP noted that health insurance companies, which are counting on a boost in business, feel that the lower penalty may prompt people to avoid getting coverage.

"The result, the companies warn, is that people would wait until they get sick to buy coverage," the AP report noted. "That would raise premiums for everyone else, since Congress' health care overhaul would also require insurers to take all applicants."

If Congress does pass reforms that would require people to get health insurance, some people may wonder what to do when shopping for coverage. The Insurance Information Institute notes that people should base their health insurance choice on the amount they can pay and whether the covered will provide services they are likely to use.

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