UC-IRVINE: Study Disputes Claims that Insuring the Sick Harms the Healthy
A recent study conducted by two UC-Irvine professors challenges insurance industry claims that laws designed to help high-risk individuals obtain health insurance result in coverage drops among healthy subscribers, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The study examined a New York law requiring insurers to offer same-price health care policies regardless of the customer's age, gender, health status or other risk factors. While area insurers opposed the legislation, arguing that the mandate would raise the cost of insurance and drive younger, healthier buyers out of the market, the UC study disputes their claim. The study found that, although there was a slight decline in the number of insured New Yorkers, the decline began prior to the enactment of the law and "mirrored declines in two neighboring states, Connecticut and Pennsylvania," that did not have similar requirements. The study also found that the law did not yield an increase in the number of New Yorkers with health insurance. "We are not saying that New York's reforms did not cause some insurers to increase premiums, ... or that enrollment in specific plans did not decrease as a result," study authors Thomas Buchmueller and John DiNardo said. They stated, "[O]ur argument is that these facts by themselves do not imply that all young, healthy consumers saw their rates increase, or that many of those facing higher premiums responded by dropping coverage altogether." In 1993, California adopted legislation similar to the New York rule for small businesses that provide coverage for employees. Efforts to extend those requirements into the individual insurance market were eventually vetoed by former Gov. Pete Wilson (R) (3/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.