Expensive Insurance

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: There are easy ways to make health insurance less expensive and easy ways to make it more expensive. Commentator Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis is afraid Congress is only looking at the latter.

Last session, Congress mandated 48-hour maternity stays, whether necessary or not. It ordered insurers and employers to cover mental health needs, which can be interpreted so loosely as to be meaningless. This session, Congress wants to introduce more mandates to make insurance even more expensive.

Today, over a thousand congressional mandates make insurers pay for everything from hairpieces to marriage counseling. Mandated coverage for questionable services has driven costs up from 7 to 21 percent some places. By one estimate, one of every four uninsured people has been priced out of the market by state-mandated health insurance laws.

This session, every special interest will beg congress to include its service in insurance mandates -- for people's benefit of course. As a result, premiums go up, companies drop coverage, more people go uncovered.

Another congressional target: large employers that self-insure through the Erisa program. Erisa was designed to protect self-insuring companies from costly state mandates. Now, when the companies duck the states' right cross, they'll get nailed by Washington's left hook.

In the past, congress drove states to the brink of bankruptcy with unfunded mandates. It's about to do the same for business.

Those are my ideas. And at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Host outro: On Monday, Pete du Pont tips you off to the only voluntary tax on the books.