NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 25, 2006

Congress, which can't seem to touch health care without making America sick, could redeem itself with the passage of a bill (HR 2355) that would allow U.S. residents to purchase health insurance in any state, says Deroy Murdock, a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

Passage of the Health Care Choice Act, sponsored by Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Jim DeMint of (R-S.C.), would provide a simple and cost-free cure, rather than an expensive complication, to the issue of the uninsured, says Murdock.

  • Shadegg-DeMint would let insurers licensed in one state sell to individuals in the other 49.
  • As such, Congress would use its constitutionally enumerated powers to liberate interstate commerce and transform 50 separate, closed medical coverage markets into one open, national health-insurance market.
  • The proposal applies to state-regulated health plans, roughly 55 percent of the insured marketplace and purchased primarily by small businesses and individuals, according to America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade association for the health insurance industry.
  • The other 45 percent of the insurance market -- health plans purchased by large employers and labor unions, among others -- would not be affected (nor would government health programs like Medicaid and Medicare).

According to Murdock, location is important in the purchase of health insurance because similar policies can have large price differences in different states. Opponents of the bill argue that letting consumers shop for health insurance would lead to the purchase of inexpensive plans from unscrupulous insurers. However, explains Murdock, consumers could avoid questionable plans in clueless jurisdictions by patronizing reputable, sensibly supervised providers.

So, what's the cost? Nothing, says Murdock, because this proposal spends no tax dollars.

Source: Deroy Murdock, "Health coverage chaos," Washington Times, January 23, 2006.


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