Free-market competition has been ‘reforming’ health care for decades

As the Obama administration appears ever-more willing to accept a health-reform plan absent a government-backed insurance option, it’s worth noting how well competition within the private insurance marketplace has kept plans affordable in recent years. Here’s a hint: it hasn’t.

Although figures for Colorado are yet to be released, insurance rates in other states tell the tale. In Virginia, insurance premiums have jumped 3.4 times faster than earnings since 2000, according to a report to be released tomorrow by Families USA, an advocate for health-care consumers. The group is tracking trends in states coast to coast. North Dakota, for example, has seen insurance premiums jump 94 percent since 2000, while earnings have risen only 35 percent, the group found. In Florida, median incomes increased just 27 percent this decade while the cost of health coverage skyrocketed 98 percent. The list goes on.

“Quite simply, America’s families are being priced out of health coverage,” Families USA warns.

The White House has said that the reform model matters much less than its ultimate effectiveness in providing competition and reining in coverage costs. Families USA has made a good case why the task shouldn’t be left to the voluntary efforts of the for-profit companies.

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