As congressional leaders look to reconcile competing versions of health care reform, the American Academy of Actuaries is reiterating its opposition to efforts to repeal to the antitrust protections insurers enjoy under the McCarran-Ferguson Act.

In a letter to minority and majority leaders in both houses, Kevin Bingham, chair of the association's medical professional liability subcommittee, charged repeal language contained in H.R. 3962, The Affordable Health Care for America Act, would lead to higher premiums.

"It is our understanding that one stated purpose of the proposed legislation is to reduce medical professional liability premiums," Bingham wrote. "In our view, this bill will not accomplish that purpose."

Bingham said the vague wording of the section of the bill pertaining to antitrust repeal would imperil the ability of insurers to share data on which to they base loss estimates and premium rates.

"These data aggregations serve the purposes outlined above, particularly for medical professional liability, which is a particularly statistically-challenging risk for companies and self-insurers," Bingham wrote. "Limitations relating to collecting and analyzing aggregated data are more problematic for medical professional liability than most other lines of insurance because, in comparison to other lines, medical professional liability is a low-frequency, high-severity, long-tailed coverage. From a statistical standpoint, this makes the estimation of losses and premium rates more uncertain than for other lines of insurance, such as most types of health insurance. The low-frequency, high-severity, long-tailed nature of medical professional liability coverage contributes to the volatility in its coverage rates."

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