Georgians will soon be able to purchase health insurance policies approved by other states thanks to the passage of a law signed by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.
Kelly McCutchen, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, said the law would directly benefit the roughly 350,000 Georgians who purchase insurance in the individual marketplace.
“We think this is great progress in allowing more freedom in health insurance purchasing in Georgia,” McCutchen said.
State Retains Oversight
McCutchen says the wording of the new law means consumers will still be purchasing insurance from Georgia companies, and policies will still be regulated by the state of Georgia.
“Any kind of financial regulation or consumer concerns would go straight to the Georgia Insurance Commissioner,” McCutchen said.
The policies must be approved in other states and would be sold by Georgia companies and so still subject to Georgia regulation, but they would be subject to fast-track approval by regulators.
“We would like to see the program expanded so that not only can Georgians buy policies approved in other states, but citizens in other states could buy Georgia-approved plans, which would then create a larger market for more innovation,” McCutchen said. “Research and development needed to go into a product makes a lot more sense if you have a market equal to, say, the Southeastern United States.”
Second State to Adopt Approach
Christie Herrera, director of the health and human services task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), says Georgia is the second state to pass this law. A similar measure is currently being implemented in Wyoming.
“We hope many other states will follow Georgia’s lead and promote patient choice in the near future,” Herrera said.
McCutchen says the law will allow consumers to decide whether they want health insurance policies that adhere to Georgia’s 45 regulations and mandates. Nearby states such as Alabama and South Carolina have significantly fewer mandates.
“The concerns have been that this would result in a race to the bottom, reducing mandates by introducing policies from states that have a lower number of mandates. Of course, we believe in the power of competition, and that mandates increase the cost” of insurance policies, McCutchen said. “But we have proven time and time again that barebones policies are not very popular.”
Loren Heal ([email protected]) writes from Neoga, Illinois.