With less than two weeks left in the 2010 legislative session, lawmakers have said “no” to some proposals that would have increased the cost of health insurance in Connecticut—but are still strongly considering others.

If health insurance costs keep rising, fewer people and businesses in the state will be able to afford it.

Among the cost-driving proposals rejected by lawmakers is a measure that would have banned any copayments for preventive care services (SB-14).

On the face of it, this sounds like a good proposal; after all, it makes sense to encourage preventive care and avoid conditions that may are harder (and more expensive) to treat. However, “banning” copayments doesn’t really eliminate them--the costs still would still have to be paid somewhere else.

The reality is, the price of copayments would shift to all health care consumers, adding to rising costs that are making insurance less affordable and less accessible for more people.

Raising the cost of health care is a bad idea even in the best of economic times. But as Connecticut struggles to free itself from one of the worst economic downturns in recent memory, lawmakers should do everything they possibly can to make health care less expensive, not more.

Just saying “no” to proposals that would make health care more expensive is the best way for state legislators to help more people in Connecticut gain insurance coverage. Unfortunately, lawmakers are still considering nearly a dozen new or expanded health insurance mandates.

Government-imposed mandates force state-regulated insurance policies to provide coverage for certain healthcare services. Over the years, Connecticut has piled up more than 60 government-imposed health insurance mandates, which directly translates into higher health care costs.

Since it’s typically the smaller businesses that buy state-regulated health insurance policies, these mandates unfairly and disproportionately make health insurance more expensive for those that can least afford it--small companies and their employees.

Eleven new health insurance mandates are contained in five bills: SB-50, SB-92, SB-260, HB-5009 and HB-5212. The legislature is also considering imposing a new tax on hospitals’ gross receipts (some proposals peg it at 5.5%). Such a tax would immediately be shifted onto health care consumers, making health care less affordable than it already is.

Lawmakers should recognize the link between these cost-driving proposals and health care affordability, and reject them.