UNION LEADER - WHY CAN’T THE GEICO GECKO sell health insurance from coast to coast?
As President Donald J. Trump and congressional Republicans repeal and replace Obamacare, they should demolish America’s current maze of state-level health-insurance fiefdoms and replace it with a truly national market for health coverage.
Under the failing status quo, medical insurers tend to sell coverage in some — often many — but not always all 50 of these United States. Thanks largely to Obamacare and its 16,000 pages of regulations, Aetna, Humana, and United Healthcare largely have evacuated Obamacare’s imploding state-level exchanges. Anthem soon may rush out the door. “If it pulls out,” CNN Money’s Tami Luhby reports, “more than 256,000 residents in Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and Virginia would be left with no options.”
Also, state-level insurance commissioners behave like border guards who decide which insurers can and cannot enter their jurisdictions. These regulators often demand that all health plans in their states cover non-life-and-death items, such as acupuncture, marriage counseling, in vitro fertilization, and other mandated benefits. Like obligatory sunroofs on all cars, such gold-plated requirements drive health premiums into the sky.
As part of repealing and replacing Obamacare, President Trump and other leading Republicans have promised to let Americans buy health coverage across state lines. A New Yorker, for example, could purchase a plan from, say, Arizona, with just the right blend of benefits, restrictions, and prices.
Republicans must keep this promise. The freedom to buy health insurance across state lines is central to successful Obamacare replacement and must be part of any legislation that Congress sends to President Trump’s desk.