“And in sickness and in health…” (Ok, maybe just in health)

HospitalA debate has broken out over health care – not in Washington, but in Trenton – and there is a real difference of opinion to consider. Chris Christie wants to allow New Jersey companies to be able to buy into health insurance plans that are regulated by another state, but not necessarily regulated by New Jersey.

The argument is that with all of the mandates that New Jersey requires, health insurance is more expensive here. So let’s go to another state without so many mandates to find affordable health care.

So what are these mandates?

Breast cancer seems to be the topic de TV de jure. Now the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) ranks New Jersey as “meets policy” for mammograms because we “…require private insurers to cover annual mammograms for women age 40 and older.” New Jersey also requires that mammograms be covered for younger women with a history of breast cancer in their families.

Let’s say a New Jersey business could go to a Michigan insurance company to get health insurance. The NWLC ranks Michigan as “weak policy” because

“… they only require insurers to offer mammogram coverage as a benefit in employer-sponsored insurance plans, but have not required that it be a mandated benefit in all of these insurance plans.”

Let’s go a step further and let that New Jersey business seek coverage from a Utah company. That state gets a “no policy” rating from the NWLC because Utah does “… not have any requirements regarding insurance coverage for mammograms.”

When questioned on the matter of insurance coverage, Christie described some patients as being exceptions and not the rule, in one case, that of a younger person contracting a disease. In his opinion, those exceptions are costing New Jerseyans more money because Trenton makes a mandate for coverage.

Chris, let’s set the record straight: Well, actually, most people are healthy, so being sick at all is actually an exception, and that’s why we have insurance.

How may women under 40 get breast cancer? According to the Cleveland Clinic,

“Only 5 percent of all breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years old. However, breast cancer can strike at any age, and all women should be aware of their personal risk factors for breast cancer.”

In effect, Chris Christie’s position is that these five percent of women are the exceptions, and it’s costing New Jerseyans too much money in health care premiums to give them mammogram coverage.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want one of my young nieces to be stuck with high medical bills because Christie thinks of them as nothing more than an “exception.”

Let’s say a young woman is working in New Jersey for a company that got its health care insurance from Utah. She finds a lump in her breast. She’d have to pay for the mammogram out of her own pocket. But what if she couldn’t afford the procedure? That’s the debate, and that’s the difference between Corzine and Christie.

What if Christie took this position to other areas of policy? That other NJ state mandates don’t need to be followed because its “cheaper”.

Maybe it would be cheaper for school districts in New Jersey to abide by the educational standards of Mississippi or Alabama? Of course, that would save us a little in property taxes, but I don’t think many families in New Jersey want their kids going to schools with less “mandates.”

What if we let counties in New Jersey abide by the environmental standards of West Virginia? What about companies in New Jersey being able to abide by the labor standards of Louisiana?

There are many reasons why we live in New Jersey, and that’s because we don’t think of our neighbors as exceptions.

“And in sickness and in health…”  (Ok, maybe just in health)