Is Health Insurance the New Car Insurance?
We’ve all watched our health insurance premiums and deductibles grow over the years. What's next? It seems to me that one day health insurance will be just like car insurance in terms of the “cause and effect” within our policies. If my theory is correct, we’ll be responsible for our health records in the same way that we’re responsible for our driving records. Tickets and accidents earn us points on our records, causing our premiums to rise. If companies aren’t happy with our performance, we could eventually even be dropped.
You Reap What You Sow
I first made this connection a couple of weeks ago when – after 13 years of being with Progressive insurance – I was dropped. To be quite honest, my driving record was pretty awful in my younger years. But the last decade or so, I've hardly had any infractions. However, my 22-year-old daughter seems to have inherited her mother's heavy foot and a love for feeling the wind on her face (which unfortunately requires higher speeds).
In the past few years, she’s been in about four car accidents and has collected quite a few tickets for speeding, parking, and not renewing her tags. Yep… it really wasn't a big surprise when I received the letter stating that after all we’d been through, Progressive Insurance was breaking up with our family.
21st Century Healthcare
I got to thinking: is this what's next for health insurance? With the Affordable Care Act, we’re seeing a big push for consumers to take more ownership and responsibility in managing their own healthcare. There is more interest than ever before in wellness and prevention programs. By being proactive about building and maintaining our health, we can actively prevent so many of the health issues that are plaguing our hospitals and medical offices. Who can be held accountable for our health if not us?
The Cost of Our Behavior
This begs the question: will this emphasis on personal health accountability translate into consumers being graded or measured for their healthcare behaviors? When we utilize the healthcare system through our insurance, will we accrue “points” that will work against us over time? Will these points result in larger premiums, or the possibility of being dropped if we collect too many of them?
When it all boils down, a large portion of healthcare costs are linked directly to patient lifestyle choices. Similarly, my daughter's driving costs are linked directly to her driving behavior. What do you think?