An Interstate Commerce Route to a National Market for Health Insurance

Advocates of interstate competition and choice in health insurance contend that state-level mandates for particular benefits, providers, and types of coverage, as well as other regulations, distort prices, increase health care costs, and reduce access to affordable insurance. Several members of Congress and at least one presidential candidate have proposed reforms to allow the purchase and sale of health insurance across state lines.

In this context, two University of Minnesota health economists, Stephen Parente and Roger Feldman, present their new analysis of the impact of state laws and regulations on health insurance premiums. Parente and Feldman have analyzed three scenarios for insurance competition: among the five largest states, among all fifty states, and within four geographical regions. They found that the most plausible scenario could produce a net increase of more than 11 million newly insured individuals. In addition, states with the largest regulatory burden (for example, New Jersey and Massachusetts) would experience the greatest movement of their resident insurance customers to insurers based in a less regulated state. Health policy researchers Michael Morissey of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and AEI's Aparna Mathur, and Assemblyman Jay Webber will respond and discuss the current effects of state insurance regulation on costs and coverage, the likely effects of interstate competition, and how such a regime might be structured. AEI's Thomas P. Miller will moderate.

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