With a vote of 406 to 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would make federal antitrust laws applicable to the insurance industry.
For 64 years, the insurance industry has enjoyed an exemption from antitrust laws that prohibit companies from sharing cost information. If the new bill were to become law, the federal government would be authorized to investigate insurance companies that may be sharing information to set rates.
The insurance industry, as well as some politicians, argue that there is no wrong-doing by insurers, and that the new insurance antitrust bill would not help to lower costs. However, the bill’s supporters say that the current antitrust exemption allows insurers to compare prices and price-fix and bid-rig health insurance and medical liability policies, leading to higher costs for patients and more costly medical malpractice coverage. The 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, from which the insurance exemption stems, was based on the theory that states could regulate the insurance industry without the federal government. Now, government officials, such as Representative Pete Defazio, believe that the insurance "industry should play by the same rules as other industries."
The bill will now have to be voted on by the Senate.