Health Insurance Mandate Update

Wall Street Journal op-ed by CAHI researchers on the cost of the 1,961 health insurance mandates.

A health-insurance “mandate” is a legislative requirement that an insurance company or health plan cover (or offer coverage for) common — but sometimes not so common — health- care providers, benefits and patient populations. …

Although most mandates will have a relatively small impact when taken individually, it’s the cumulative effect that drives up the cost of coverage. It’s like telling people they must have a “Cadillac plan” loaded with options. Cadillacs are nice, but not everyone can afford one. And when people can’t afford coverage, they join the ranks of the uninsured.

Mandates also limit choices. Why should an older couple nearing retirement pay for maternity
coverage, or a teetotaler pay for drug and alcohol abuse counseling? …

Fortunately, a few states are recognizing that mandates make health insurance more expensive. At least 10 states now permit mandate-lite policies, which allow individuals to purchase a policy with fewer mandates and so are more tailored to their needs and financial situation. And there are now at least 30 states that require a mandate’s cost to be assessed before it is implemented.

Mandates aren’t the only things driving up the cost of health insurance. States that require insurers to accept any individual who applies, regardless of their health status, are imposing costly burdens on health insurance. And those costs get passed on to consumers — if they decide
to keep their coverage.

Before politicians jump on the anti-health-insurance bandwagon, they should look at the role they are playing in driving up costs. Making health insurance more affordable would be a lot
easier if they would stop legislating what it has to cover.