Policy Documents

Mandates Increase Costs and Reduce Access to Affordable Health Insurance

Paul Guppy –
June 1, 2002

In this Policy Note, Paul Guppy asserts that paying for health care coverage is one of the fastest-rising costs facing businesses and families in Washington. At the same time health insurance is one of the most heavily regulated sectors of our state economy. These two trends are linked: rising state regulation plays a major role in driving up the cost and reducing the accessibility of health coverage.

Nationwide, the number of uninsured is falling, dropping by nearly 600,000 people between 1999 and 2000, the latest year for which figures are available. By 2000, 38.7 million people, about 14 percent of the U.S. population, were without health coverage, down from a high of some 42 million in previous years. Washington, however, is one of only eight states that is experiencing the opposite trend. The number of uninsured in our state is increasing, rising by an average of 1.4 percent in recent years. There are an estimated 794,000 people in Washington, or 13.7 percent of the population, who are without health insurance coverage.