Here we go again: Republican politicians are rolling out the easily digested soundbite of “selling health insurance across state lines” as a solution to high premiums.
In the New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz examines the idea:
At the Fox News Republican debate last month, Donald Trump offered a way to lower health care costs: allow insurers to sell their policies across state lines.
The idea of developing a more national market for health insurance has become a major part of Republican health reform orthodoxy. A bill to allow interstate insurance sales was introduced in Congress in 2005, and, since then, has been a part of the platform of every Republican presidential nominee. Mr. Trump is not alone in his view: Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal have all endorsed it.
The only problem? It makes no sense. “I’ve tried for 10 years to explain this to Republicans; it is a big problem,” said Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation.
Put me in the same boat. Besides Mr. Matthews, I can think of only one other free-market health policy analyst who shakes his head at this.
Years ago, I wrote a couple of articles about this conceit, and they had no impact because Republican politicians know it can be easily swallowed by constituents who have little understanding of health insurance. Unfortunately, it also indicates that the Republican politicians proposing it have little understanding either.