Broker: Interstate Sales of Health Plans? Forget About It.

Gregory A. Freeman, February 8, 2017

President Trump's pick for HHS secretary says consumers would benefit if health insurance policies could be sold across state lines. At least one broker says that position misses a key fact of selling health insurance.

President Trump's pick for HHS secretary says consumers would benefit if health insurance policies could be sold across state lines. At least one broker says that position misses a key fact of selling health insurance.

The plan outlined for reforming the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by President Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, Georgia Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R) calls for permitting the sale of insurance across state lines.

The Senate may vote on Price's nomination within days, and his confirmation would add momentum to Republican plans to repeal or "repair" the ACA. Republican representatives are split on which is the better option, with more conservative members insisting that the entire law be scrapped.

Simply repealing Obamacare actually could make state differences more influential, according to a recent a recent study from Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute.

Prior to Obamacare, the cost and value of healthcare insurance varied greatly from state to state, the report says, so a repeal without some solution for that problem would be a step backwards.

Permitting sales across state lines could be the answer, says Sally C. Pipes, president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow of Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute.

"Unleashing competition in the insurance market is a very good thing," Pipes says. "If a family wants to buy coverage in a state that has fewer mandates, they should be able to. States that have a lot of heavy mandates, which push up the cost of coverage by between 30% and 50%, will be encouraged to reduce those mandates in order to keep people buying coverage in their states."

A repeal or wholesale modification of the ACA could prompt more insurers to enter the marketplace, Pipes says, which would greatly increase the choices for consumers if they are able to purchase plans offered outside of their home states.

Gregory A. Freeman

Gregory A. Freeman is a contributing writer.

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