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Open the Health Insurance Marketplace to Decrease Price, Increase Quality

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Tomorrow’s elections may issue big changes to a variety of issues, including Texas health insurance, still reeling from national health care reform passed in March. If Republicans win back a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, as many pundits are predicting, it will be interesting to see what they do about health care.

Last month, Republicans issued their Pledge to America, which included, among other initiatives, a plan to increase competition among health insurers by opening health insurance across state lines. Opponents to this proposal claim that such a measure would result in consumers buying health insurance in the states with the lowest prices, and therefore, the fewest consumer protections. But are state regulations for health insurance really geared toward consumer protection, or are they simply government-imposed mandates that do little more than raise the price of health insurance?

John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis explores these regulations (the national average by state is 42), noting that most are the result of special interest lobbying, rather than measures to protect consumers. This is why states with few regulations, like Idaho (13) and Iowa (26) don’t have higher reports of consumer abuses than states with more regulations. So opening the market across states lines and allowing consumers to buy from states with cheaper prices would not subject patients to dangerous practices. Instead, it would increase competition by allowing insurers to enter more markets, decrease the rate of uninsured residents and discourage states from imposing costly—and often unnecessary—regulations that would place them at a disadvantage to compete in the market.

A national health insurance market isn’t without problems, but increasing the availability of affordable health insurance in Texas and other states would be a huge win for consumers and businesses alike. Hopefully tomorrow’s elections will put us on track to right some of the wrongs imposed by ObamaCare.

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