House Committee Considers Bill To Allow Purchase of Health Insurance in Any State
Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday spoke at a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing in support of a bill (HR 2355) he is sponsoring that would allow U.S. residents to purchase health insurance in any state, CQ HealthBeat reports. Under the bill, consumers would not be restricted to policies that meet a certain state's regulations or required level of benefits (CQ HealthBeat, 6/28).
Shadegg and supporters have said the bill would help the uninsured find affordable coverage by allowing them to consider lower-cost options from other states. In addition, Shadegg said, the bill would make it easier for insurers to market their products (CQ HealthBeat, 5/12). According to CQ HealthBeat, the bill "would allow consumers to shop for health care the way they do for other products: via the Internet, through the mail or over the phone."
At the hearing, the bill was supported by committee Chair Joe Barton (R-Texas); David Gratzer, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute; and Robert DePosada, president and chair of The Latino Coalition (CQ HealthBeat, 6/28). House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) also has voiced support for the bill (American Health Line, 5/13).
At the hearing, Shadegg said, "This bill will cut costs by allowing an insurance company to go through one process and sell to people in 50 states, rather than going through 50 different regulatory processes."
Barton said the bill would generate "a little less government and a little more freedom." He added, "Why should the consumers have to take ... a policy that covers everything under the sun?"
Opponents of the measure said that many insurers would move operations to Alabama, Idaho, North Carolina and Ohio -- states that do not have coverage mandates. As a result, coverage for people with no health problems would be less expensive, but people with health problems might not be eligible for coverage.
Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, former Democratic House member, said that the bill would "promote a 'race to the bottom,' as insurers would be greatly rewarded for licensing their individual products in states with less regulation and fewer personnel to oversee what could be a large influx of new products."
Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said, "When you let insurers snake out from under consumer protections, ... coverage may be less expensive for some people. That's because it isn't available to all the others" (CQ HealthBeat, 6/28).