Is Individual Mandate Worse than “Public Option”?
Cato’s Michael Cannon has a commentary on the effects of an individual mandate to buy health insurance. His poster child is
chief spokesman critic of Obama’s health care proposals, Mitt Romney, who signed Massachusetts’ individual mandate into law:
In the three years since Massachusetts enacted its individual mandate, providers successfully lobbied to require 16 specific types of coverage under the mandate: prescription drugs, preventive care, diabetes self-management, drug-abuse treatment, early intervention for autism, hospice care, hormone replacement therapy, non-in-vitro fertility services, orthotics, prosthetics, telemedicine, testicular cancer, lay midwives, nurses, nurse practitioners and pediatric specialists.
The Massachusetts Legislature is considering more than 70 additional requirements.
Those requirements can increase premiums by 14 percent or more. Officials further increased premiums by imposing new limits on cost-sharing.
“The effect,” writes the Boston Globe, “has been to provide more comprehensive insurance than in most other states but also to raise costs.” Premiums are growing 21 to 46 percent faster than the national average, in part because Massachusetts’ individual mandate has effectively outlawed affordable health plans.