Good news for Georgia residents. Yesterday the Georgia House of Representatives voted for final passage on HB 47, legislation that would allow Georgia residents to purchase health insurance plans offered in other states, but not currently available in Georgia due to misguided mandates.

As I pointed out in the OC Register a little over year ago:

Health insurance mandates are government-imposed requirements that insurers and health care plans either cover, or offer coverage, for a condition or treatment. As recently as the 1960s, mandates were few and far between. However, today there are more than 2,000 mandates imposed by the federal and state governments.

Health insurance mandates drive up the cost of health insurance significantly. According to a recent study by the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, insurance mandates increase the cost of a basic health care plan by 20 percent to 50 percent. This estimate is based on analysis of insurance policies, not theories or modeling.

To understand how mandates drive up health insurance costs and price many out of the market, consider the following hypothetical situation: A new college graduate is in the market for a new car. At this point in her life she just wants reliable transportation. However, the government requires her to buy the fully loaded Lexus, with heated seats, navigation system and pricey options, even though that is not what the customer needs or can afford.

Georgia has more health insurance mandates than most states, with 45 separate requirements. Since 2009, the number of health insurance mandates has risen from 2,133 to 2,156 nationwide. Council for Affordable Health Insurance Executive Director J.P. Wieske sees the need to rein in health insurance mandates as necessary step in bending the cost curve:

While some state and federal legislators continue to pass new mandated benefit laws, others recognize that mandates drive up the cost of health insurance and make health insurance policies unaffordable for millions of Americans. As implementation of the new federal health insurance law further drives up the cost of health insurance, the cost of adding new mandated benefits will become a more important issue.

At the federal level ATR is also supportive of H.R 371, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn’s Health Care Choice Act of 2011, which would permit all Americans to buy health insurance from anywhere in the country.

Kudos to the Georgia legislature for adopting this important reform, which will reduce costs and increase access to quality, affordable health insurance that meets the unique and variant needs of consumers. ATR encourages Gov. Deal to sign HB 47.