NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Mandates Drive Up Health Insurance Costs

May 19, 1999

When the federal government requires auto makers to install such items as air bags, seat belts and emission controls, the extra costs must be included in car prices. The same is true of health insurance costs when Congress and state legislatures require health insurance companies to offer an ever wider range of benefits: policy premiums rise, pricing such insurance beyond the means of those with lower incomes.

The result is that the numbers of those without insurance rise.

  • For more than 30 years, states have been passing legislation that forces insurers to cover health care providers such as chiropractors and podiatrists, and services such as drug and alcohol abuse.
  • There were only five such mandates in 1968 -- but there were 1,260 as of the end of last year.
  • Insurers and employers tried to hold down costs and keep health insurance affordable by switching to managed care.
  • But then 39 states passed "patient protection" bills between 1994 and 1998 -- restricting the practices of managed care.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some 900 of these laws have been passed among all 50 states. And now Congress is thinking about getting into the act.

Experts warn that the primary reason health care costs are rising is government interference. The greater the number of services mandated, the greater the costs.

Source: Merrill Matthews Jr. (National Center for Policy Analysis), "Cadillac Care Too Rich for Some," USA Today, May 19, 1999.


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