Washington, D.C., July 13, 1999 – This week the United States Senate is considering the “Patients’ Bill of Rights,” an amalgam of various mandates and requirements on the health insurance industry. While this laundry list of insurance company complaints will attract the attention of just about anyone that has ever been left unsatisfied with their coverage, the most likely result will be to make health coverage more expensive and edge the most marginal consumers out of the market.
“The danger posed by all of the proposed bills before Congress is that they will loose a new round of statutory guarantees and federal regulatory controls, impose more special-interest benefits, and further politicize complex health care decisions,” said Tom Miller, director of economic policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “These mandates will also raise costs, restrict choices, and reduce private insurance coverage levels.”
One of the biggest problems with the proposal is that by raising requirements for health plans, Congress will make coverage more expensive and exclude those that can barely afford coverage from the industry altogether. “Members of Congress fully realize this,” Miller continued. “They are hoping the middle-class voters who retain coverage will be satisfied with their costly regulatory guarantees while those who are squeezed out the system remain silent victims.”
Another troubling aspect of the plan is that it moves the health care and managed care debate in the wrong direction. The changes that are going to benefit consumers in the long run are structural reforms that allow individuals more choice over the benefits they want and are willing to pay for, not one-size-fits-all mandates on everyone’s health coverage.
“The managed care debate needs to be challenged on a fundamental level,” said Miller. “There is no single qualitative standard of health that can be guaranteed or imposed across the board. Even when it comes to health care, money does matter – to physicians and consumers alike.”
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