New GAO Reports on Private Health Insurance Coverage, Denials

The GAO has released a report entitled Private Health Insurance Coverage: Expert Views on Approaches to Encourage Voluntary Enrollment.” For the report, the GAO solicited expert opinion on potential alternatives to the ACA’s individual health insurance mandate, given policy concerns and legal challenges to the mandate. Options suggested include, among others: imposing late enrollment penalties; expanding employers' roles in facilitating employees' health insurance enrollment; imposing a tax to pay for uncompensated care; expanding public education; and conditioning receipt of certain government services upon proof of health insurance coverage. Note that experts did not necessarily suggest these options would be as effective in increasing enrollment as would an individual mandate. A second GAO report examines “Private Health Insurance: Data on Application and Coverage Denials.” While data reviewed indicates that the aggregate application denial rate for the first quarter of 2010 was 19%, denial rates varied significantly across insurers, and the available data provided little information on the reasons for the denials.

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