No Walls Here

The thinking goes in Washington, D.C., that if you say something three times, it becomes a fact. Thankfully, out here in flyover country, that’s not the case. Just repeating something over and over–the Republicans have no ideas on health care!–doesn’t make it so.

One of the best ideas to improve the downward spiral that is the (un)Affordable Care Act is to allow insurers to sell policies across state lines. The biggest question many of us have is: Why has an idea so simple been denied so long?

Maybe because of political differences. There are some who’d rather the smartest people in government tell all of us hayseeds exactly how things should be. Call them this generation’s Best and Brightest. (And you might note how the last generation’s Best and Brightest came out in a little affair called Vietnam.)

Allowing somebody in De Queen, Ark., to buy a health insurance policy from a company in Texarkana–that is, Texarkana, Texas–doesn’t sound exactly un-American. The two, buyer and seller, are only a few miles apart. Separated by an invisible state line and a much-too-visible State Line Avenue. For that matter, can’t a body in Conway, Ark., get a credit card from a company in Rhode Island? If competition is good in automobiles, banking and flower delivery, why can’t it work in health care?

For the best example of the other side’s thinking, take (please) one Dave Jones, the insurance commissioner of California, and Democrat in good standing. He says cross-state sales would “eviscerate the ability of state legislatures and state governors to decide what the appropriate consumer protections are for their state’s consumers and businesses.”

He said that as if that would be a bad thing.

Yes, there is a mind-set still with us today that government has all the answers. Why, if the mere people were able to decide what they wanted, the government wouldn’t be able to protect them! And tell them to buy prenatal care if a state decrees it so. Even if you’re a single man in your 90s. Or buy nursing home insurance even if you’re a young lady just out of college. The state knows best, always. Until the people have had enough of it. Which might have been proven in the last presidential election.

For a better way to look at these things, take Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute, who might have more confidence in her fellow Americans than the insurance commissioner of California. She said, “If you live in the state of California or New York and you wanted a policy that had fewer state mandates and might be cheaper, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to go to [another] state and find a plan that supports your needs.”

Thank you, ma’am, for summing up the problem. And the potential solution.

That is, do We the People want 50 sets of state regulations more than we want more competition, lower costs for health insurance and the freedom to choose? (Who needs Pediatric Services if they have no desire to have kids?) The answer to that question seems obvious, but maybe only if you work outside government.

For an extra added bonus, with this new rule to expand competition and freedom, think how much would be saved at the state level without so many state insurance regulators telling insurance agencies just exactly what they must cover. Statehouse to statehouse.

Maybe the whole matter comes down to one age-old question: Are consumers smart enough to make their own decisions, whether it is buying heath insurance or deciding which school is best for their child, or do they need those smarter government officials protecting them from the marketplace and themselves?

We know our answer. Unfortunately, we also know the bureaucrats’ answers, too.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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