Obamacare’s Best Features Aren’t Free

A YouGov poll finds that “that a majority of all Americans (59%) support requiring health insurance companies to cover inpatient mental health services”:

Health Insurance Mental Health

J.D. Tuccille examines the price-tag on Obamacare’s mental health coverage requirements:

The costs that mandates add to health coverage are no mystery. [T]he Council for Affordable Health Insurance estimates that, while each individual mandate might elevate costs by only a small amount, in aggregate “mandated benefits currently increase the cost of basic health coverage from slightly less than 10 percent to more than 50 percent, depending on the state, specific legislative language, and type of health insurance policy.”

Mental health parity—which “ensures that health plans features like co-pays, deductibles and visit limits are generally not more restrictive for mental health/substance abuse disorders benefits than they are for medical/surgical benefits” in HHS terms—is among the more expensive mandates, raising costs by five to 10 percent (PDF), all by itself.

Relatedly, Reihan digs up this quote from Harold Pollock from 2011:

Progressive supporters of health reform disagree about how expansive the essential health benefit (EHB) should really be. An overly restrictive design will leave important therapies uncovered, as happens every day across America. Yet a package designed with too little emphasis on cost (either because too many marginal services are covered, or because prices grow too fast) would be disastrous. This will prove too costly, and thus unsustainable as a platform for near-universal coverage.