by Kyle Collins
There seems to be a consensus that health insurance coverage is lacking for too many citizens of New Jersey. To much chagrin, the race for governor has devolved into Gov. Jon Corzine ignoring the reality that solutions to complex problems require civil debate.
The main reason that people who want insurance lack it is because the cost is too high. According to Families USA, from 2000 to 2009, health premiums rose by 79 percent while median earnings rose by only 19.7 percent. Translating this into dollars means that during 2000, family health insurance premiums cost $7,592 and in 2009 rose to $13,595. Clearly, current polices are unsustainable with the state having insurance rates among the highest in the nation.
So why is it so high here? New Jersey has a multitude of mandatory coverage. That is, the state has 45 insurance policies that are required by law. However, this comes with a costly price tag. The Council for Affordable Health Insurance does an annual analysis of the cost of mandates. Some mandates independently add only about 1 percent to insurance costs, but the percentages have accumulated to numbers in the dozens. Noble intentions do not necessarily translate into sound policies. To form a car analogy with health insurance, New Jersey has a system in which you can only buy a pricey Cadillac even though you want an affordable Civic.
To help combat ever-increasing health insurance, Republican candidate Chris Christie has proposed several reforms. First, he would allow health insurance companies to sell alternate plans that are not loaded with pricy mandates. This would allow people to have a choice in coverage and open the doors to more affordable insurance. Opponents of said reforms accuse Christie of reckless disregard for the health of women. This doesn’t make sense. Even The New York Times challenged this character assassination in its June 8, 2009 issue:
“Mr. Christie speaks not of cutting health coverage, or mammograms, as the ad suggests, but of giving people the option of choosing no-frills, mandate-free and, presumably, much cheaper insurance if they want it. Singling out mammograms — one such mandate — is an attempt to poison Mr. Christie with women.”
The second major component of reform would allow small companies to purchase out-of-state insurance policies. Contrary to Corzine’s assertion, the real situation is that current policies are helping prevent competition from forcing insurance agencies to offer affordable insurance. On Nov. 3, vote for real reform. Vote Chris Christie.