Sunday, March 21, 2010

“De-Regulating” the Marketplace — For Hair Prostheses…

President Obama and Democrats continue to argue that Republicans support “de-regulating” insurance companies.  Given this talk of “de-regulation,” many may note that the Senate health care bill would impose massive new mandates on insurance, which the Congressional Budget Office admitted would raise individual health insurance premiums: “average premiums would be 27 percent to 30 percent higher because a greater amount of coverage would be obtained,” and individuals would need to buy more health insurance coverage due to “the minimum level of coverage (and related requirements) specified in the proposal.”  The overall increase in insurance premiums would average $2,100 per family—and potentially much more for younger individuals, who would be forced to pay higher premiums to subsidize their older, richer counterparts.

It’s also worth examining what exactly Republican proposals to allow individuals to purchase insurance across state lines would do – namely, allowing individuals and families the choice of buying more affordable policies in states that may impose fewer benefit mandates.  The Council for Affordable Health Insurance compiles an annual list of benefit mandates imposed by various states, and the 2,133 discrete mandates in effect as of 2009 (an average of nearly 43 per state) include those requiring insurance policies to cover:

  • Acupuncturists;
  • Circumcision;
  • Chlamydia;
  • Hair prosthesis;
  • Massage therapists;
  • Oriental medicine;
  • Port wine stain elimination; and
  • Varicose veins.

All these mandates increase rather than decrease costs, moving in the opposite direction from the President’s stated goal for health reform and raising several questions: Would Democrats rather individuals NOT be able to afford health insurance rather than purchase coverage that doesn’t have all these various government-imposed requirements?  How exactly are the mandates listed above so essential to families and individuals that the majority would rather leave them in place than allow individuals to buy a more affordable policy that does not include these various “bells and whistles?”