With some kinds of insurance, it makes sense to penalize people for being high risk. It makes sense to charge someone with multiple traffic violations and accidents more for auto insurance than someone with a safe driving record, for example.This is not only more fair to the safe driver; it also, in theory, encourages people to drive more safely.
Free market health-care advocates like to argue that the same principle applies to health insurance. People who take better care of themselves have less need for health care, it is argued, so insurers ought to be able to raise premiums on people who need to see doctors more than other people. This encourages people to choose a more healthful lifestyle.
I understand the argument for charging higher insurance premiums for people who smoke or are overweight. But there’s only so much you can do with that. I heard someone argue recently that people who eat a healthful diet would pay less in health insurance than people who live on junk food. But how would the health insurance company know what we’re eating? Will we have to wear food intake monitors? Or little GPS monitors to show the insurance companies how many miles a day we walk?
Essentially, the same people who scream about the intrusive power of big government want to give private insurance companies infinite access to our personal lives in order to determine what to charge us for insurance.
Further, a healthful lifestyle is no guarantee of avoiding catastrophic medical problems. Healthy people have accidents. People enjoying healthful outdoor activities can contract Lyme disease. Healthful fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Healthful people can be exposed to deadly pollutants such as asbestos, which causes mesothelioma, and not know it.
Besides America has a private health care system… And its still the fattest one.