The Across State Lines Myth

Michael HiltzikOf all the healthcare reform nostrums in all the world, the most popular among Republicans in the US is allowing the sale of insurance policies across state lines.

The idea has been part of every GOP proposal to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. It was written into GOP presidential candidate John McCain’s platform in 2008 and Mitt Romney’s in 2012, and shows up right there in paragraph two of President-elect Trump’s healthcare policy statement…

Selling insurance across state lines is a vacuous idea, encrusted with myths. The most important myths are that it’s illegal today, and that it’s an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. The truth is that it actually is legal today and specifically enabled by the Affordable Care Act. The fact that Republicans don’t seem to know this should tell you something about their trenchant understanding of healthcare policy. The fact that it hasn’t happened despite its enablement under the ACA should tell you more about why it’s no solution to anything…

As the Georgetown University study team observed, laws allowing cross-state health insurance sales have no organized champions. Consumers aren’t clamoring for them; insurers aren’t interested in them; doctors and hospitals don’t care; and state regulators aren’t inclined to cede their oversight to interlopers from somewhere else. Their only backers are preening political candidates who don’t understand health insurance and hope you don’t, either.

“Selling insurance across state lines” is a slogan, not a policy, and it deserves to be consigned to the dustbin of empty promises.

—Michael Hiltzik
Selling Health Insurance Across State Lines Is a Favorite GOP “Reform.” Here’s Why It Makes No Sense

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