“Single-Payer FAQ”. Physicians for a National Health Program. Retrieved May 30th, 2008 – “Why not make people who are higher risk pay higher premiums?
Experience-rated insurance requires higher risk people to pay higher premiums. This approach says that people who have had cancer in the past, or who have chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, or who have had dangerous exposures to substances like asbestos, must pay more because they are at higher risk of using health services. Experience rating allows insurance companies to cherry-pick the healthiest people and either refuse to insure the sickest or, what amounts to the same thing, charge prohibitively high rates. This approach makes no sense. The whole point of insurance is to spread the risk so that everyone is covered. If you raise premiums – and thereby exclude from coverage – those people unfortunate enough to be sick, you defeat the point of both insurance and the health care system. Genetic conditions, childhood diseases, accidents, injuries and income distribution (or how much equality there is in a society) play a much bigger role in people’s health than “individual lifestyle” factors. And we know that even for motivated patients, alcohol and tobacco cessation are difficult, and medical weight loss nearly impossible. We need public health, primary care and education programs to try to prevent disease, but punishing patients once they are ill is inhumane and counterproductive.
Community-rated health insurance is the socially fair approach. It spreads the risks evenly among all the insured. It removes the punitive element. It does not discriminate against the very sick, nor against those of us who are at higher risk because of our age (say, over 50) or our gender (reproductive-age females have higher health expenses than men, for obvious reasons).
Health care should be organized as a public service, like a fire department. A health system organized as a business is discriminatory and accountable to no one. At some point in our lives all of us will predictably need health care. Hence health insurance is unlike any other form of insurance; we all are involved.”