People Are Perfectly Willing to Gamble With Their Own Health Coverage

In America, we have a stupid system of health care in which your health insurance, which might naturally be considered a fundamental human need, is covered by your employer, resulting in a horrible, expensive, uneven patchwork. At the same time, the earnings of most workers have remained stagnant for the past 40 years. It comes as little surprise, then, that workers are willing to gamble with their own health in exchange for more money in their pockets.

Last year, several big companies tested out a new health care insurance system for about 100,000 workers: it gave them a set sum of money, and allowed them to select their own insurance plan. The results, naturally: "Many workers were willing to choose lower-priced plans that required them to pay more out of their pockets for health care." From the WSJ:

Aon Hewitt said that for this year, 39% of the workers chose higher-deductible plans, up from 12% in 2012, when they weren't picking from an exchange. Those choosing a preferred-provider-organization plan dropped to 47% from 70%. Overall, 42% of employees picked plans that were less rich than they'd had the previous year, while 26% picked pricier coverage.

This demonstrates the fact that people who are not wealthy are willing to gamble that their health will hold out this year in exchange for money in hand. (Likewise, I'm sure that if you offered completely indigent homeless people $1,000 to sign away their Medicaid rights for the upcoming year, they would take it.) Of course, if these people do suffer severe health issues or get hit by a bus, either they or the taxpayers are stuck with a huge health care bill, or they go without necessary health care because their paltry plan does not cover it sufficiently. The Republican take on this common sense result is, "Let's have everyone shop for their own health care!" The rational response, though, is "Let's have national health care, because it is impossible to predict whether or not we will suffer a health setback this year, so in the end it is more rational to deal with the problem collectively, as it affects all of us."

But nah let's just let people pocket that health care money. God damn the American health insurance system is fucked up.

[WSJ. Photo: Leon Brocard/ Flickr]