Why Can’t Health Insurance be More Like Car Insurance?

This is from the Dallas Morning News:

Texas will become the 15th state where Progressive Insurance offers a program that adjusts individual rates every six months based on driving habits. Those habits are monitored by a wireless device about the size of a cigarette pack that relays information to the insurer about what time of day the car is being driven, how far it travels, and how smoothly the driver starts and stops.

Comments (6)

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  1. Joe S. says:

    Good question.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    I have had similar conversations with both liberal and conservative with policy wonks. Most seem to agree (in theory) that individuals should bear more responsibility for unhealthy behaviors. Indeed, both the Senate and House bills have provisions for wellness in health plans. However, people back away from holding people responsible for unhealthy behaviors when they realize that actually means charging people with hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar or excess weight far more than those who hit the gym for an hour each day.

  3. Bart Ingles says:

    It’s important not to confuse “holding people responsible for unhealthy behaviors” with “holding people responsible for involuntary risk factors”, even though you may be in favor of both. In the first case you are not only rating risk, but possibly trying to influence behavior (or at least indicate which behavior will be rewarded). In the second case the only behavior to be influenced is the tendency to opt in whenever costs are anticipated. There are also pragmatic differences between the two, e.g. political or perceptual.

    With auto insurance, traffic citations are far more common than chargeable accidents. So even without the black box, there’s usually plenty of data to identify risky behavior besides number of claims or total claims. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem as true for health insurance.

  4. Virginis G. Frost says:

    The insurance companies have done a good job of charging people who are higher risks with higher premiums. The same could be done with health insurance. Smokers, drinkers, the obese and people who engage in risky sports need to be charged more for their health insurance. The rest of the population should not have to “pick up the tab” for them. This will put the responsibility on THEIR shoulders–where it belongs.

    We need to require that people take more responsibility for themselves and not EXPECT others to pay for their over indulgences. “Health care for all” simply opens the floodgates. Costs will explode, definitely, not decrease.

  5. John R. Graham says:

    The government refuses to listen to this line of discussion because it removes the biggest excuse for ever-increasing sin taxes on tobacco, liquor, and junk food. With resistance to hiking income taxes increasingly apparent, the nanny state is hardly likely to allow health plans to underwrite such risky behaviors, thereby depriving the government of the claim that it needs sin taxes to pay for the health care of the fat, drunk, smokers.

  6. Car Insurance Guru says:

    Hi, good post. I have been thinking about this issue,so thanks for sharing.The same could be done with health insurance. Smokers, drinkers, the obese and people who engage in risky sports need to be charged. I will definitely be coming back to your blog.