Health insurance is cheaper in California?

Patrick Gibbons

About 21 percent of Nevadans are without health insurance, according to the Council on Affordable Health Insurance.  For Nevada, individual insurance costs are too prohibitive for many to afford the coverage on their own.  Because this has become a problem for many, politicians are scrambling for solutions.

Advocates of big government are proposing either universal medical care, which is already leading to out-of-control costs in Canada and England, or enforcing mandatory insurance coverage, like in Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, "RomneyCare" is failing, as the state is scrambling for ways to contain costs.  Yet despite that failure, mandated health care coverage is still a primary policy prescription from the Left to address America's growing health care concerns.

It should come as no surprise (though to many, it undoubtedly will) that the increasing costs for Massachusetts, Canada, England and even Nevada are all the result of too much government interference.

Nevada's position as one of the worst states in terms of insurance coverage really isn't surprising when one takes into account the small population through which insurers must spread their risk and the fact that Nevada has 50 individual mandates for insurance coverage.

This suggests two immediate steps Nevada can take to help make health insurance more affordable to individuals and small businesses.

First, allow individuals and small companies to buy insurance plans from out of state. Nevada's small population wouldn't be a problem if Nevada didn't outlaw interstate competition in health insurance.  Private individuals and small companies cannot take advantage of market competition, let alone the advantages of larger insurance pools in more populated states like California, because it is illegal to buy insurance plans from out of state.

According to the Council on Affordable Health Insurance, in 2004-2005 individual insurance plans in California were $479 cheaper than in Nevada. 

Second, lawmakers should eliminate or reduce individual mandates on insurance coverage. Nevada law requires certain conditions and practices be covered, which adds to the cost of insurance.  For example, Nevada law requires insurance companies to cover optometry, chiropractors and even alcoholism treatment.

It's a great deal if you need those services – or if you're a special interest, eager to supply them – but it only makes health insurance less affordable to the most disadvantaged in Nevada.

When it comes to Nevada's health care coverage problems, our policymakers have to figure out their priorities.  Are they advancing the interest of the state, the insurance company or the individual?  If they want to help the 2.5 million individuals in Nevada, their first course of action should be to advance free-market reforms in health care and insurance.