October 5, 2009

How Wyden's "Free Choice" Plan Would Help Reform Succeed

This very-aware and well-informed individual chooses to self-insure, and will do well so long she avoids the worst accidents or illnesses. One of the key needs in health insurance reform is that a sufficient choice of genuinely competitive insurance plans must be available so that persons like Lyn Robinson can find a coverage that makes sense.

Like Lyn, my own family is part of the numerous minority that spends time and money working to live a healthy lifestyle. For instance we spend an extra premium of about $200/month on food (for relatively more fresh vegetables and fruits, more fresh fish, etc.) and $25/month on health clubs. This extra expenditure leaves less available for traditional illness-based insurance, so that having both the healthy lifestyle and comprehensive health insurance works so long as...our income goes up a little faster than health insurance premium increases. Or else we'd have to cut more spending from other areas of life. Imagine that economic effect on the general economy when replicated hundreds of millions of times.

We need a sufficient level of choice and competition in the insurance market so that some insurers will have a motivation to offer plans that make some kind of sense for those that want to spend time and money to lower our health risks.

But there is little motivation for an insurer that already has 50-80% of the market in a state to bother to work up new options, new kinds of health plans for those that work on leading a healthy lifestyle and lowering their risks, unless....

Unless there is sufficient competition, and genuine market transparency (an ability to realistically compare and shop among insurers and plans) such as would be strongly increased under Senator Wyden's Free Choice Proposal.

In additional to smoking, insurers must be allowed by law to consider lifestyle choices like health clubs and current fitness as they devise plans and set insurance premiums.

Current reform proposals prohibit insurance premium price discrimination against preexisting conditions, just as they should. I'm not suggesting differently. Instead, we need to see discounts or perks available to those that work to lower their future health risks.


Current reform proposals in Congress now allow better insurance discounts for healthy lifestyles

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