If We Could Make Just One Fix to Health Care, This Should Be It

The best solution for increasing competition in the health insurance industry--to allow insurance companies to sell policies to any resident in any state-- is one to which the federal government holds the key. Not only would this reduce costs by increasing competition, it would be a simple change for Congress to make. Yet so far, the United States congress refuses to make this one change, preferring instead to make health insurance and health care more complicated than it has to be.

Since 1945, as a result of federal intervention, Americans have only been able to purchase health care in their own states. The resulting lack of competition is one of the chief reasons that health insurance has become so expensive here. A simple, one-page federal law allowing Americans to purchase health insurance from any company in any state would help to reduce the exorbitant insurance costs that cause several million Americans to not be able to afford health insurance. The United States Congress, however, does not seem interested or capable in creating simple laws that solve big problems. Members of congress seem predominantly about arrogating to themselves more control.

A bill being offered by Senator Max Baucus would require individuals to wait until the year 2015 at the earliest before they could purchase insurance from whomever they choose. Baucus's original bill contained no such language. These pitiful crumbs from the masters' table are only there at the behest of Republicans.
Starting in 2015, states may form health care choice compacts to allow for the purchase of individual health insurance across state lines…. Once compacts have been agreed to, insurers would be allowed to sell policies in any state participating in the compact.” [pg. 12]
If health care reform is really about helping the average American to more easily afford health care, how difficult would it really be to start with just this one thing to allow that affordability to begin happening right now?

Update 10/1/2009: Here is a conversation between CNN's Wolf Blitzer with President Obama's Senior Advisor David Axelrod wherein Axelrod runs like a scared rabbit from the question about allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines. Hat tip to Jeremy Lyman. (Queue video to 1:39 to see where Axelrod "steps in it".)


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