The current private health insurance market isn't sustainable

June 27 [Wed], 2012, 18:51
For sure, as indispensable automobiles are to our lifestyles, there is no loud Cheap Euro 2012 Jersey national movement, accompanied by moral outrage, to change these principles.Unsustainable MarketIn contrast, similar principles are routinely violated in health insurance. To demonstrate this, let's return to the same suburban mother from the opening paragraph. She's busy working, driving to and from work, and driving her kids to school and activities. She ends each day exhausted, sitting on the couch with fast food. She's obese, has a sedentary life, a bad diet, and hasn't taken the time to go to the doctor in years. After a simple injury doesn't heal for weeks, she turns up at the emergency room and learns she has type II diabetes. Although type II diabetes is controllable, changing diet and exercise habits and properly tracking her condition takes time and effort and she's never quite successful in implementing the necessary lifestyle changes.So the initial emergency room visit is only the first of a long list of health care related to non-controlled diabetes and other problems associated with obesity. Whether she has individual or group insurance, her insurance pays for each episode of care, without singling her out for a premium increase, and without charging her any more cost sharing than is charged to the healthiest and most medically diligent insureds. Her coverage continues until she voluntarily changes insurance companies and/or employers or becomes eligible for Medicare. If she's covered under group insurance she may not even pay any premium. Her insurance continues unabated, even though the disease was caused by neglecting her body and she maintains her poor lifestyle even after the disease becomes known.This just wouldn't happen in auto insurance. This scenario is the auto insurance equivalent of guaranteed access to low-priced auto insurance that takes care of every possible repair, including damage already Real Madrid Jersey done, until the day the car falls apart so completely it's unsalvageable (death) or reaches 200,000 miles (Medicare), regardless of whether she even changes the oil (takes care of herself) in the interim.As a society, we don't expect this in private-market auto insurance, but we expect it in private-market health insurance. Furthermore, there's a chorus of national and state interests, which continuously pushes us further away from the auto insurance principles.The current private health insurance market isn't sustainable. Prices have been consistently increasing faster than inflation for decades. Each year, insureds use more health care than ever before and more people have no insurance at all. Most actuaries and other people in the private health insurance market don't want national health insurance with its bureaucracy and one-size-fits-all benefits. Yet, we're trying to sustain a private insurance system, which violates the very principles we know are necessary for private insurance markets.Yes, health insurance involves the sacredness of human life and is therefore different from auto insurance. But if we're to sustain a private-market solution to health insurance, actuaries need to explain to the larger society, in terms that society understands, the rationale for the following principles:* As sacred as health care is, it's still an economic transaction that has to be balanced by individuals and societies, against other economic choices. It can't be unlimited. Sometimes it will be secondary to other choices. On a given day, for example,the mother in our scenario may value her car more than her health.* Insurance premiums should be paid by the individual and tied to controllable risk factors. This will provide the best incentive for the control of risk factors.* Although it's hard to draw the line between abuse, neglect and ignorance, self-abuse shouldn't be insured and we need to draw that line somewhere.* The private market can't provide unlimited, self-directed health insurance.* Routine care and ongoing treatments of chronic conditions can be pre-funded, can even be subsidized, but they France Soccer Jerseys don't constitute 'insurable events.'* Insurance can't be expected to keep every human body in pristine condition. No amount of health care will prevent everyone's ultimate death.* Comprehensive, unlimited, non-subsidized private-market coverage isn't possible for people with severely impaired health.* The private health market can provide limited non-subsidized health insurance, such as protection from accidents, to even health-impaired individuals.* Individuals who can afford to do so and who take good care of themselves should be able to 'buy up' to better coverage. People have the option of buying up for everything else in life.Discussion of these principles is lacking from most of the current health insurance debate. If society can intuitively understand how similar principles apply to health insurance, then they should be able understand the principles in the health insurance context.
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