The GOP Myth: Health Insurance Across State Lines Will Lower Costs! The Truth: Buying The Policy May Cause Your Death!
Buying Health Insurance From Out of State-How It Can Kill!
The GOP promotes two ideas that they believe will lower the cost of health insurance. The first is always: Allow people to purchase policies across state lines and second, the idea of tort reform. This article concentrates on the flaws of the first theory. Not only is it a bad idea to purchase out of state insurance policies, the practice could kill you. It will not save money for you, the consumer. It just leads to further deregulation of the private health care insurance industry and can be a significant risk to your health. The GOP is lying and I will do my best to explain how.
First to explain the theory. The GOP believes that competition is the very best method of cost control in any industry, including health care. They are convinced that if there are more companies competing for a limited number of customers, prices would come down. They also believe that the policies in your state may be too expensive and if cheaper options are offered, then the consumer would benefit by being able to purchase the cheaper option. Sounds good, right? Remember the old saying that you get what you pay for? In this case, it is for the most part, true.
The explanation is a little dry, but I will do my best. If you have a credit card, chances are it was issued from a state that has little regulation; in other words, the GOP fought for decreased regulation of credit cards and the states that have the least number of protections for consumers are a haven for credit card companies. Because of this, you may find that your credit card was issued out of Delaware or South Dakota. Health insurance is the same way. Each state has a Department of Insurance. They each have their own guidelines for what MUST be offered in any policy sold within the borders of their own state. Not all insurers want to comply with the rules in each state, so they do not offer policies in the state. If they did not mind complying with state rules and regulations, there would be no reason for them to stay out of each state.
States do not say, "We are going to only allow 100 insurance companies to do business in our state". They say, "If you are willing to comply with our regulations, you are welcome to do business here". I will use the same example illustrated by Ezra Klein, in an article he wrote for the Washington Post. California requires that any health insurance policy sold in the state provide coverage for lead poisoning. Arkansas does not. If you have a regulated state, there will be many more things that must be covered under your insurance policy. If the GOP had their way, you would be able to purchase a policy from a state that has few or even no regulations.
The GOP Would NOT Force Other State Policies To Cover Illnesses Your State Covers!
The GOP has no intentions of calling for uniform coverage. They believe in states' rights, especially when it comes to private health insurers and credit card companies. They receive millions in contributions from these companies. It would not be in their best interests to impose uniform coverage requirements. So, you live in California and you want to buy a policy issued in Alabama. What coverage will not have to be included that is included in California? The policy will not need to include coverage for: blood lead poisoning, contraception, cervical cancer or HPV screening, diabetic supplies, emergency services, mastectomy, maternity, etc. This is NOT a complete list, but buy an insurance policy from Alabama, and you may find out too late that what you need is not covered.
If, as the GOP recommends, buying across state lines becomes legal, every insurance company and every subsidiary would find it in their best interests to move to Alabama. I certainly would if I owned an insurance company. In the interest of lessening the hate mail that I receive from Alabama, there are many other states that also have few regulations.
Illnesses Are Not The Only Consideration
States require that all policies sold in their states cover certain types of practitioners. Say you want to use a nurse practitioner. In some states, the services of a nurse practitioner would be covered; in other states, no. If you had one of the policies that disallowed coverage of nurse practitioners and you saw your doctor's nurse practitioner, you would end up paying the entire bill. So in addition to illnesses, each state has practitioner regulations and facility regulations. Buy a policy from out of state and you may fnd that that the hospital emergency room is not covered.
Most people never even read their health insurance contracts. Many read just the booklet that comes with the policy, and few of them understand the booklet. The booklet is NOT the contract and the booklet can be misleading. The lay person rarely understands limitations of coverage, conditions of eligibility, exclusions, authorization, schedules of benefits, etc.
I recently came into contact with the family of a small business owner. The dad, who owned the small business, had been paying hundreds of dollars a month for a private health insurance policy for himself and his family. The dad had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer and was horrified to learn that his chemotherapy treatments were not a benefit of his policy. What a horrible time to find out that you have no coverage! He is now on Medicaid and all of those years spent paying thousands and thousands of dollars, wasted, because he did not understand the limitations of coverage. Believe it or not, the sales agent that sold him the policy, was shocked, as well.
So, while it may sound good to be able to purchase across state lines, it is difficult enough to navigate the policies governed by your own state, much less those that come in, unregulated, from other states.
As a side note: I have written many articles on health insurance and have recently noticed that some of those articles have been reprinted, without permission, without being attributed to me. One of the sites that is guilty of this is a foreign company currently being investigated by their own country for fraud. They are using one of my articles, with my name removed, to entice people to sign up for their services. Please be cautious when seeking assistance with your health insurance problems. Not all companies are above board. If they steal writing, imagine what they will do with your money!
Don't Believe A Patient Advocate, Read Ezra Klein!
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