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State lines insurance bill clears Wyoming committee

State lines insurance bill clears Wyoming committee

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A bill intended to make it easier for outside companies to sell health insurance in Wyoming has cleared a state legislative committee.

The bill would reduce the regulatory process for companies that want to sell policies in Wyoming. Advocates say that could translate to lower prices for consumers.

The House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee passed the legislation earlier this week. It will now be considered by the full House.

If adopted, the legislation could reduce wait times for insurance companies that want to sell products in Wyoming. Out-of-state companies would no longer need Wyoming’s approval to sell policies that have already been accepted by other states.

However, the businesses would still need to be licensed in Wyoming.

Conservatives promote the sale of insurance across states lines as an alternative to the federal health reform law. Increased competition and larger risk pools could result in lower prices, the reasoning goes.

But a study published last year suggested easing restrictions on interstate insurance sales might not have the effect supporters hope it will. The study, by the Center for Health Insurance Reforms, concluded such legislation does not address the true drivers of health insurance costs.

Wyoming lawmakers have already made one attempt to encourage the sale of insurance across state lines. In 2010, the Legislature adopted a bill that directed the state insurance commissioner to attempt to develop an interstate compact for insurance sales. Other states showed little interest, in part because of Wyoming’s low population and high health care costs.

Contact Joshua Wolfson at 307-266-0582 or at josh.wolfson@trib.com. Visit http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/wolfjammies to read his blog. Follow him on Twitter @joshwolfson.

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