NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 19, 2009

Among the horrifyingly under-debated pieces of the health care puzzle are the crippling mandates imposed by the federal and state governments.  These mandates have helped drive costs through the roof, says Blake Yount, a contributor to the Washington Examiner.

In fact, the 12 most popular mandates increase the cost of health coverage plans by anywhere from 15 percent to 30 percent, says the National Center for Policy Analysis. 

Take Nebraska for example:

  • As of 2008, insurance companies have been mandated to cover 18 specific benefits, including: alcoholism, mammograms and TMJ disorders.
  • Each mandate typically increases the cost of health insurance coverage by anywhere from one percent to three percent, so the 18 mandates raise costs for Nebraskans from ten percent and 20 percent.

Some of these may seem to be common sense as part of general coverage; however, not everyone is interested in paying for a mammogram or substance abuse treatment because they don't need that type of coverage, says Yount.  Some people would rather pick and choose as life goes one.

This births another free market solution, says Yount:

  • Why can't we sit down with an insurance provider with a list of all available benefits and their costs, then pick and choose which we should like to include in our personal plan?
  • Maybe then we would be free to sign a contract with that plan, thereby allowing us to change benefits over time.
  • Of course, we would have to believe in the free market by rescinding mandates.

Therein lies the problem.  We are so accustomed to being so far removed from our own health insurance, that we now expect to pay next to nothing out of pocket, says Yount.

Through mandates and certain regulations, governments distort markets and destroy affordability.  This practice pits citizen vs. citizen, citizen vs. business, citizen vs. anything that isn't government, says Yount.

Source: Blake Yount, "18 health insurance mandates in Nebraska, and why mandates are not being debated as part of reform," Washington Examiner, August 14, 2009; based upon: John C. Goodman and Merrill Matthews Jr., "The Cost of Health Insurance Mandates," National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis, No. 237, August 13, 1997.

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