Regulatory Threats to Health


The Jan./Feb. issue of the Utne Reader has an interesting article (not available online yet, near as I can tell) about the Ithaca Health Alliance, a health co-op that helps you pay for certain medical expenses (broken bones up to $2,500, burns up to $3,000, no coverage for drugs or preventative care) for a mere $100 a year expenditure on your part. But don't call it an insurance company. Utne buries in graf nine one of the more interesting details about why this sort of approach–which works great as the article tells it–isn't more widespread:

The Ithaca Health Alliance takes pains to call itself a "health assurance" project. The distinction is more than semantic. In 2004, the New York State Health Insurance Board sent a letter inquiring about its activities. The board's regulations, which would require [the Alliance] to maintain a $25 million general fund and to offer specific categories of coverage, would effectively spell the end of the project. With nudging from [the Alliance's founder and board], state senator Jim Seward asked the board to leave the Ithaca Health Alliance alone.

I hope they continue to do so. But government's role in the impossible difficulties and expense of health care and health insurance in today's world should get bigger play in stories like this.