LOSE THE MANDATES

July 9, 2007

The main reason there are uninsured people in the United States is affordability.  The affordability issue can be tracked to mandated benefits required of all state-regulated health insurance policies, says Philip J. McGinnis, who has lobbied for small-business health plans.

Small-business plans would essentially exempt owners with limited numbers of employees from state regulation of mandated benefits -- similar to self-insured policies offered to major employees such as DuPont, Chrysler and General Motors, under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA):

  • There were only seven state- mandated benefits in 1965; today there are nearly 1,000.
  • While many mandates cover basic providers and services, others require coverage for such non-medical expenses as hairpieces, treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, pastoral and marriage counseling.
  • Overall, 12 of the most common mandates can increase the cost of insurance by as much as 30 percent.

The NCPA predicted almost 10 years ago that the real threat behind the Congress's newfound interest in mandating health insurance benefits is incremental rather than immediate.  One or two federal mandates may not increase the cost of health insurance significantly but, as in the states, once the door is open every special interest will hurry through to besiege the legislature.  As a result, health insurance will cost more, employers and individuals will cancel more policies and Congress will face a growing uninsured 'crisis' -- a crisis largely of its own making."

A few seem to be getting the NCPA message, says McGinnis.  As The Council for Affordable Health Insurance points out, mandates make health insurance more expensive. In addition, there are at least 10 states that provide for mandate-lite policies, which allow an individual to purchase a policy with fewer mandates more tailored to his or her needs and financial situation.

Source: Philip J. McGinnis, "Offer basic health coverage without all the costly extras," Delaware Voice, July 8, 2007.

 

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