All during the debate on healthcare reform both before Obamacare and after some business organizations, including the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), argued for a “free-market” approach. One favorite proposal was to allow insurance to be sold to individuals across state lines which would require that states to give up their authority to mandate benefits for every plan being sold in their states. The only mandated benefits would come from the state where the insurance company was domiciled.
If we just let individuals buy insurance across state lines, the NFIB told us, we would see more competition, less state mandates and lower premiums.
This free-market rhetoric and promise of less-costly individual health insurance was so convincing that five states passed laws to allow their citizens to buy insurance across state lines as long as the offering insurance company was licensed in their states.
So how is this free-market healthcare reform going? Apparently not so well.
Since Georgia passed its law last year to allow it, not one health insurance company is marketing a plan from another state. Not one!
“I’m really surprised because it was such a bumper sticker issue by Republicans saying if we could get across state line selling, we could reduce the cost of health care,” said Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens. “We’re dumbfounded. We are absolutely dumbfounded.”
Kyle Jackson is the director of the NFIB in Georgia. “It’s frustrating,” he said of the failure of the free-market reform his organization advocated. “You can’t force the insurance companies to write these policies.”
Welcome to the real, not fictional, healthcare free market, Mr. Jackson.