Bonnie Burns, a consumer representative on the NAIC’s senior task force, said that while the group did look at some studies that showed consumers do use more services when everything is paid for, “we can’t tell if the services were necessary or unnecessary. You can’t tell why they got them,” she said. “We are saying we want you to go to the doctor, but if that triggers these high deductibles and copays, you’ll think twice about it,” Burns said. “It’s schizophrenic. You can’t regulate the consumption of medical care like you do other products.”

But some in Congress are trying to do exactly that, which is reason enough for the press to pay close attention to the insurance regulators’ report.

Journalists covering Medicare in the coming debates over entitlements will hear that seniors must have more “skin-in-the-game,” to help the government balance its budget. Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker has introduced a bill that would do just that. The NAIC’s report is a starting point for asking Corker and others advocating this approach some tough questions about the underlying assumptions behind it.

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.