As I ponder the upcoming catastrophic event on the horizon known as ObamaCare, it occurs to me that one little change to health insurance could provide significant improvements in the healthcare industry as well as the health of the overall population.
When you purchase an automobile insurance policy, your rates are based on a recent history of your behaviors and choices. How many tickets? How many accidents? DUI? Type of car? Credit history? This is an attempt by the insurance company to assess the risk of insuring you. There are also a couple of risk factors in which you have no control. Age and gender are not something you can control but are used to assess significant insurance rate increases. Try paying for the insurance for a 17 year old boy and you’ll understand.
When you purchase life insurance, same risk assessment. Disability insurance, same. Homeowner’s insurance, same. Why do we expect something different with health insurance?
Health insurance has nearly become a right in most people’s mind. For far too long, health insurance has been subsidized by the use of group policies where the high risk employees are paid for by the low risk employees. Of course this is hidden from the consumer because most companies pay a significant portion of the total policy premium. A benefit that is about to expire.
What if health insurance was like all other insurance? What if you had to pay more if you smoke (some already allow this)? What if you had to pay based on your BMI? What about body fat percentage? How about untreated high cholesterol, should you pay more? I say YES!
We should add a premium to those who choose to engage in high risk activities. Want to eat at Burger King every day? Fine, your choice. But you will have to pay more for your health insurance. Why are those who try to live a healthy lifestyle penalized by being required to subsidize those who choose unhealthy activities?
Why do we think health insurance should be different? Incorporating personal responsibility into the health insurance system will change behaviors for the better. When the consumer has a cash penalty involved, then suddenly the consumer is more selective and makes a different choice. Have you ever asked the pharmacy how much your prescription would be if you paid cash? You might be surprised. Two of my last three prescriptions cost less if I paid cash than if I used my health insurance and paid my $20 contract price. Have you even asked?
Change the system by adding some personal responsibility and you will see changes in the cost of healthcare as well as positive changes in the overall health of our communities.