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More Freedom Needed In Health Insurance Market

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The "good news" from Tuesday's Census Bureau report was that the number of U.S. residents with insurance increased by 3.6 million in 2007, but the "bad news is that nearly three million of them got their coverage through government programs," according to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner. Turner states, "The slide toward a government-dominated taxpayer-supported health sector will continue" until uninsured U.S. residents "are given more opportunities to buy private coverage."

According to Turner, "States could help by lightening their regulatory burdens to encourage greater competition for more attractive and affordable coverage." She continues, "More regulation and less competition generally means less affordable coverage." Turner states that "[f]reeing Americans to buy health insurance across state lines would give people more choices in health care."

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In addition, Turner writes that the federal government "needs to do its part by updating today's policies to better fit a mobile 21st-century economy." According to Turner, Congress could "make health insurance more portable" by shifting tax subsidies away from people who have employer-sponsored health coverage to refundable tax credits, which could "help millions of people buy coverage who can't afford it now." In addition, it could "help people keep their health insurance when they lose their jobs or move." Turner states that providing tax credits for health insurance to individuals would create "armies of consumers to work to find affordable policies."

Turner concludes, "The complex problems in our health sector are best cured by a bigger dose of market competition, not more government intervention" (Turner, Wall Street Journal, 8/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.