Monday, August 09, 2010

The rational health consumer...

A unique episode for our household: we have met our deductible expenses for our high-deductible (catastrophic) health insurance policy.  Jan had a procedure in the spring we had expected and the usual routine care has soaked up the maximum for both of us, so...

When my doctor expressed concern over some blood pressure readings and suggested more testing, I experienced an unusual reaction: Why the heck not?  I had fobbed her off for years. That pretty much blew her mind - she is very careful with patients like me who have an economic dog in the fight.

But I'm still struggling to grasp what it must be like for those who have become used to "real" medical coverage. After some discussion, we are catching up on some preventative blood and cardio-vascular tests while 2010 still shows on the calendar.

I can almost justify my medical avarice because of the whacking 22% rise in my premiums this year. Or the fact that we have essentially been supporting high-users for all our premium-paying lives. But I really don't like making health decisions this way.

I mean, driving back from the cardiologist, I actually thought, "With any luck, I'll have my bypass operation this year."

Woo. Hoo.


Anonymous said...

So much for the loss ratio on your policy this year.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what medical cost inflation would be if everybody had to shop around for their care (if everyone had high deductible insurance.) I guess with the recent health law we'll never know.

Andy Miller

John Phipps said...


Actually, I think that is exactly what will happen. For the first time Jan and I can shop for insurance (in 2014) since we will be guaranteed coverage and can compare policies with pretty much identical features (deductibles, coverages, etc.)

I'll still choose a HD-type, as I think will many others, but research shows that makes for better consumer choices in medical care consumption.

From Virginia said...

Your 22% rise in premium is similar to many other stories I've heard. Sounds like all the health insurance companies are jacking premiums up to meet the actuarial demands of covering children till they are 26, removing life time caps, and all the other goodies promised, except, they forgot to mention they were not going to be free.

John Phipps said...


Doubtless those are some of the reasons. But judging from the massive amounts of cash insurers have accumulated they are being extremely proactive.

After all the only increased expense to them to actually kick in is the up-to-26 inclusion, which hardly seems a whopping underwriting challenge.

I'm sure the MO vote didn't help. Without mandated coverage the single largest source of new premium is removed. Universal coverage actually nets positive for insurers, which is why many signed on to the reform.

And one must consider what a perfect cover health reform is for rate increases.