Maybe we should allow people to sell the lifetime right to health insurance coverage as if it were an asset that health care insurers could trade, according to The Health Care Blog.
This would give insurance companies a long-term incentive to keep you as healthy as possible, since if you switched health insurers in the future, the competing company would be forced to pay your former insurer for the right to insure you.
Right now, insurance companies don’t have a long-term incentive to make sure you’re healthy due to ‘churn’, ie. the loss of customers to other companies, making any investment in peoples’ ultimate long-term health too likely to be a waste of money for them. Why invest in a customer’s long-term health when they are likely to leave at some point and go with a competitor.
The Health Care Blog: “Churn” is the industry term for the annual percentage of members who leave a health plan, and it can be surprisingly high. If each year 20 per cent of a health plan’s members go to some other health plan for whatever reason (they move, lose their job, change employers, get Medicare, find a better deal), then it is not worth it for the health plan to invest in their members’ long-term health. If the health plan invests time and effort (which means money) to get you to quit smoking, and you then quit and become someone else’s customer, they lose that investment – and the other company gains, by getting a customer who is less likely to need expensive long-term treatments.
But what if they did not lose that investment?
What if your long-term health profile were a corporate asset of your health plan? What if, when you changed health plans, the new health plan had to pay the old health plan for the rights to insure you? Call this a health plan member’s Net Asset Value. If you don’t smoke; have a body mass index of 26 or below; and your cholesterol, blood pressure and resting heart rate indicate basic cardiovascular fitness and so forth, the new plan has to pay a high price for those rights, because you’re a valuable customer
We hear a lot about “perverse incentives” in health care: Your disease benefits a lot of players in health care, your staying healthy does not. Smart people have been asking, “Why isn’t anybody really paid to help me stay healthy, rather than to just treat me when I am sick?” To answer that question, we have to identify what economic value is created by your staying healthy, and who gets that value. If we could make sure that value accrues to an organisation that has some leverage in keeping you healthy, we will have created a powerful economic engine for health.
Selling patients: Remember, you heard it here first.
Sure, you’d be selling a part of your freedom, but it might be worth the trade-off, given that you’d suddenly have a healthcare organisation highly interested in your long-term health since they could profit from your ultimate health, not your sickness.
We disagree with having the government force such a system upon us, but if this were voluntary then it woud be great.