Health insurance has for a long time, been exempt from the operation of the US antitrust laws. This is often defended as necessary in order to allow the states to make their own policy decisions for their own health care and/or insurance systems. Now, though, the idea of an insurance industry exemption is under attack.
Peter DeFazio, a member of the US House of Representatives from Oregon, introduced legislation earlier this year that would have repealed the exemption. The bill, HR 1418, was passed in the House in September, then was quietly allowed to die for this term in the Senate.
There are certain respects in which health insurance necessarily cooperate with one another, and an rational change to the law would have to allow these forms of cooperation to continue without subjecting the participants to antitrust or other liability. AN obvious example is the collection and analysis of the historical data used in determining rates/premiums
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The idea of a repeal of the antitrust exemption, though, is now in the political bloodstream, because health insurance is now seem by almost everyone as a federal issue, and the re-application of the federal antitrust laws to ensure competition seems to many an appropriate piece in that issue’s jigsaw puzzle.