Nearly 30 Percent of REALTORS Lack Health Insurance
Washington, DC, Oct. 25, 2007 - The National Assn. of REALTORS® testified at the Senate Finance Committee hearing today that the current individual health insurance market does not serve the needs of its self-employed members. Nearly 30% of NAR members lack health insurance, and cost is the primary reason – 84% of REALTORS® who do not have coverage say they can’t afford it.
“We believe that tax incentives for the self-employed and for small employers, coupled with mechanisms that would create insurance coverage gateways and/or additional pooling mechanisms, would create a far more rational and effective system than current law,” said Monty Newman, a REALTOR® from New Mexico, Mayor of Hobbs, N.M., and member of the NAR Board of Directors. “An overwhelming majority of NAR members are self-employed, which explains why nearly 30% are without insurance.”
NAR proposed that the self-employed be allowed to “pool risk,” much as large group plans currently do. “Enhanced risk-pooling opportunities in the individual market would facilitate greater market efficiency and enhanced economies of scale resulting in more affordable insurance products,” said Newman.
NAR also suggested that an official, reliable and regulated information source be developed to facilitate insurance market access for the self-employed. “We do not seek a federal insurance system, nor do we seek new entitlements. We believe that a combination of public and private ventures should be developed, preferably at the state or regional level, to make information available and comparisons possible,” Newman said.
NAR encouraged Congress to review the issue of essential coverage or mandates. Newman noted the fundamental reality that “more guarantees generate more costs to the consumers.” NAR suggested Congress establish guidelines that would distinguish categories of coverage from essential to preventive to the “Rolls Royce” with top-of-the-line options.
NAR said that tax incentives are useful and important, but they must be accompanied by significant reforms to the individual and small group health insurance markets.