(2) Effects on the national economy and interstate commerceThe effects described in this paragraph are the following:
The requirement regulates activity that is commercial and economic in nature: economic and financial decisions about how and when health care is paid for, and when health insurance is purchased. In the absence of the requirement, some individuals would make an economic and financial decision to forego health insurance coverage and attempt to self-insure, which increases financial risks to households and medical providers.
Health insurance and health care services are a significant part of the national economy. National health spending is projected to increase from $2,500,000,000,000, or 17.6 percent of the economy, in 2009 to $4,700,000,000,000 in 2019. Private health insurance spending is projected to be $854,000,000,000 in 2009, and pays for medical supplies, drugs, and equipment that are shipped in interstate commerce. Since most health insurance is sold by national or regional health insurance companies, health insurance is sold in interstate commerce and claims payments flow through interstate commerce.
The requirement, together with the other provisions of this Act, will add millions of new consumers to the health insurance market, increasing the supply of, and demand for, health care services, and will increase the number and share of Americans who are insured.
The requirement achieves near-universal coverage by building upon and strengthening the private employer-based health insurance system, which covers 176,000,000 Americans nationwide. In Massachusetts, a similar requirement has strengthened private employer-based coverage: despite the economic downturn, the number of workers offered employer-based coverage has actually increased.
The economy loses up to $207,000,000,000 a year because of the poorer health and shorter lifespan of the uninsured. By significantly reducing the number of the uninsured, the requirement, together with the other provisions of this Act, will significantly reduce this economic cost.
The cost of providing uncompensated care to the uninsured was $43,000,000,000 in 2008. To pay for this cost, health care providers pass on the cost to private insurers, which pass on the cost to families. This cost-shifting increases family premiums by on average over $1,000 a year. By significantly reducing the number of the uninsured, the requirement, together with the other provisions of this Act, will lower health insurance premiums.
62 percent of all personal bankruptcies are caused in part by medical expenses. By significantly increasing health insurance coverage, the requirement, together with the other provisions of this Act, will improve financial security for families.
Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (29 U.S.C. 1001
et seq.), the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 201
et seq.), and this Act, the Federal Government has a significant role in regulating health insurance. The requirement is an essential part of this larger regulation of economic activity, and the absence of the requirement would undercut Federal regulation of the health insurance market.
Under sections 2704 and 2705 of the Public Health Service Act [42 U.S.C. 300gg–3
, 300gg–4] (as added by section 1201 of this Act), if there were no requirement, many individuals would wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care. By significantly increasing health insurance coverage, the requirement, together with the other provisions of this Act, will minimize this adverse selection and broaden the health insurance risk pool to include healthy individuals, which will lower health insurance premiums. The requirement is essential to creating effective health insurance markets in which improved health insurance products that are guaranteed issue and do not exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions can be sold.
Administrative costs for private health insurance, which were $90,000,000,000 in 2006, are 26 to 30 percent of premiums in the current individual and small group markets. By significantly increasing health insurance coverage and the size of purchasing pools, which will increase economies of scale, the requirement, together with the other provisions of this Act, will significantly reduce administrative costs and lower health insurance premiums. The requirement is essential to creating effective health insurance markets that do not require underwriting and eliminate its associated administrative costs.