Texas public policy foundation
Congressional Hypocrisy on Health Insurance Requirements

An article in the Wall Street Journal last Tuesday revealed a telling double standard in Congress' response to the provisions of ObamaCare. A new law, separate from the Affordable Care Act, requires active and retired members of the military to pay up to $200 per month if they want to keep an adult child on their health insurance until age 26. This is similar to a much-touted provision of the ACA, with the important difference that under ObamaCare, the cost of keeping young adult dependents enrolled ultimately falls to private insurers.

According to the WSJ, "The final legislation directed the Department of Defense to charge families for the full cost of the additional coverage. Sen. Mark Udall (D., Colo.), an author of the legislation, said the fee was included because legislators wouldn't support providing the coverage free of charge."

In other words, Congress is willing to have private insurance companies-and, by extension, their customers-absorb the full cost of keeping young people insured up to age 26, but they won't impose the same requirement on themselves.

Although private insurers can't charge higher premiums for family plans that include college graduates, they can charge for dependents (regardless of age), and they can always raise premiums, which is already happening and will likely continue. The article cited data from the Kaiser Family Foundation that shows employees in private plans paid on average $4,316 in premiums for family coverage in 2012, and their employers paid an additional $11,429. The article fails to mention other data from the foundation that shows average premiums for individuals and families have already gone up since ObamaCare became law in 2010.

By forcing military families to pay out-of-pocket to keep their children on federal healthcare insurance, lawmakers have shown their true colors: they are willing to hold private insurance companies to a different standard than they hold themselves.