Friday, October 4, 2013

Diseases of the Young

The main objection to the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, seems to be the requirement that everyone … EVERYONE buy insurance. That way, insurance companies can collect premium payments from healthy people who aren’t likely to need lots of expensive healthcare. That’s how insurance companies make money. In theory, that allows insurance companies to offer lower rates to people more likely to need health care because, as you know, companies just love to pass savings on to their customers so they don’t have to keep accumulating profits.

Whether you support the law or not, you can probably see how forcing Americans to buy insurance goes against the grain in a country where the only thing people are required to buy is guns. So maybe there’s a better way to persuade young, healthy people to buy insurance.

One possibility is to encourage teen pregnancy. Pregnancy is always good for getting people to seek medical care. They need lots of tests, including expensive processes to get pre-birth pictures of the baby at the stage when it’s still indistinguishable from a spider in the equipment.

“Ah,” you say. “But pregnant teens actually need medical care, so their premiums don’t benefit the insurance companies.” True enough. We want people on the insurance rolls who will make no claims.

HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases don’t seem to be doing it. Again, these are conditions that would require actual medical treatment. Besides, people who won’t even spring for condoms are not likely to go for monthly insurance premiums.

So is there something that, like pregnancy or STDs, will scare young, healthy people into buying insurance, but won’t actually result in medical bills? This seems like a fertile area for medical research. If the National Institutes of Health ever re-open, maybe they could take this on.

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