The Colorado House of Representatives rejected a proposal yesterday that would have made it possible for Colorado residents to buy health insurance from out-of-state carriers not licensed in Colorado. The vote was close, but failed 6-5 in the committee meeting.
I think that the state-by-state system of health insurance in this country is ridiculous, considering how mobile our population is. People move all the time, often across state lines. A new employer usually means a new health insurance policy, and for people who buy their own individual health insurance, a move from one state to another will always include a search for new health insurance coverage. This is a hassle for the healthiest of people, and can be a nightmare for people with pre-existing medical conditions who may not qualify for coverage in their new state.
The proposal was defeated based on opponents’ fears that allowing Colorado residents to purchase health out-of-state health insurance would lead to a decline in the number of healthy people covered under Colorado health insurance plans, and result in increasing premiums for those who remain. Another concern was that the proposal would lead to far more insurance scams, as the Colorado Division of Insurance would have less control over what was being marketed to Colorado residents. And from an administrative standpoint, the proposal would have generated more paperwork and expenses for the Colorado Division of Insurance, as they would have had to stay abreast of plan design and pricing in multiple states, rather than just the Colorado plans they currently oversee.
I agree that introducing an option to buy health insurance from other states would probably have created more complications and headaches than it was worth. But that is because our current system is set up in such a state-by-state fashion. What if we were to do away with the system of health insurance being specific to each state, and set up national health insurance plans – either through a single payer system or through expansion of the private insurers we now use? That would spread risk pools out over a much larger population, and would allow people to move freely from one state to another without worrying about setting up new health insurance with every move. As it currently stands, every state has different regulations regarding health insurance mandates, underwriting, and plan design. Where you live can play a big part in what your health insurance options are. It seems that erasing state lines with regards to health insurance would level the playing field and simplify the process of getting and keeping health insurance.